Hoyer dis­cusses civic en­gage­ment with Thomas Stone stu­dents

House mi­nor­ity whip dis­cusses role, in­spi­ra­tion in pol­i­tics

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com

Gov­ern­ment stu­dents at Thom- as Stone High School re­ceived a les­son in civic en­gage­ment this week from their con­gress­man, U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Steny Hoyer (D-Md., 5th).

Prin­ci­pal Chr ys­tal Ben­son said hav­ing Hoyer visit the Wal­dorf school was a won­der­ful op­portu- nity for her stu­dents.

“It’s not ev­ery day when your con­gress­man comes to your school, and this gave stu­dents an op­por­tu­nity to have con­ver­sa­tions with him and see what his typ­i­cal day is like, and to get an in­side view of what gov­ern­ment and pol­i­tics is like,” Ben­son said.

Hoyer vis­ited the school Tues­day af­ter­noon at the re­quest of Ron­ald Helm, a so­cial stud­ies teacher at Stone.

Helm said, com­ing from a jour­nal­ism back­ground be­fore be­com­ing a teacher, he thought it would be a good op­por­tu­nity for his stu­dents to meet their con­gres­sional rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

“I had worked around gov­ern­ment, and so I thought it would be a good re­source for the stu­dents to ac­tu­ally get to meet some of these lead­ers,” Helm said.

Helm said he con­tacted Hoyer’s of­fice three years ago to

ar­range a visit.

“Three years is not bad, as busy as his sched­ule is. For him to take time to speak to our kids, is in- cred­i­ble,” Helm said.

Hoyer toured the school with Ben­son, Su­per­in­ten- dent Kimberly Hill and other school of­fi­cials, vis- it­ing a class­room in the school’s Project Lead the Way Bio­med­i­cal pro­gram and speak­ing with stu­dents.

Hoyer then vis­ited the school au­di­to­rium, where he spoke with ninth grade stu­dents in the Lo­cal, State and Na­tional Gov­ern­ment class, stu­dents in the AP Gov­ern­ment and Pol­i­tics class, staff and mem­bers of the school’s Par­ent Teacher Or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Hoyer dis­cussed his own ed­u­ca­tion, and how a speech by then-U.S. pres­i­den­tial can­di­date John F. Kennedy at the Univer­sity of Mary­land Col­lege Park in the spring of 1959 con- vinced him to change his ma­jor.

“As I sat there … I said, I want to get in­volved, I want to make a dif­fer- ence,” Hoyer said.

Hoyer told his au­di­ence the coun­try has never been more deeply di­vided since the U.S. Civil War, with vast dis­agree­ments be­tween peo­ple of dif­fer- ent po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tions and al­most no “meet­ing of the minds.”

“The meet­ing of the minds is the cre­ation of a con­sen- sus, which in a democ­racy al­lows for con­struc­tive, for­ward move­ment. That’s what civic en­gage­ment is all about,” Hoyer said. “Ameri- ca will suc­ceed to the ex­tent that we bridge those dif­fer- ences.”

Hoyer stressed the im- por­tance of ed­u­ca­tion in learn­ing to be­come in- formed, en­gaged cit­i­zens.

“Do you want to get the ‘A’? Sure, but the rea­son you study is not to get the ‘A,’ it is to know the in­for­ma­tion that will make your civic en­gage­ment, whether it’s with your fam­ily, your com­mu­nity, your county, or your state, or with your coun­try, be- cause all of you will be in- ter­fac­ing glob­ally. We live in a global vil­lage,” Hoyer said. “Your civic en­gage- ment with your coun­try will de­ter­mine how suc- cess­ful that vil­lage will be in the course of your life- time.”

Hoyer then took sub­mit­ted ques­tions, read by mod­er­a­tor Tania Har­ris, pres­i­dent of the school’s Stu­dent Gov­ern­ment As- so­ci­a­tion and an in­tern in Hoyer’s Wal­dorf of­fice. Hoyer then spoke with stu­dents af­ter­wards.

Hoyer said vis­it­ing schools and meet­ing with stu­dents is an ed­u­ca­tional ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Num­ber one, I learn from them,” Hoyer said. “To see them, to see the pos­i­tive things they’re do­ing, so I can re­lay that to other peo­ple, and I like to think that I give them some sense that politi­cians, Con­gress­men, are not just some­one you don’t know; they’re some­body’s who’s your neigh­bor, some­body who’s been through a lot of the same ex­pe­ri­ences you’ve been through and some­body you can re­late to. I think that’s im­por­tant, be­cause too of­ten they get a jaded view of pol­i­tics and politi­cians.”

Con­gress­man Steny Hoyer speaks with Thomas Stone High School’s Project Lead the Way Bio­med­i­cal stu­dents Tey­onna Har­ley and Zion Hunt­ley.


Con­gress­man Steny Hoyer speaks with stu­dents at Thomas Stone High School Tues­day.

Rep. Steny Hoyer speaks with Charles County Su­per­in­ten­dent Kimberly Hill dur­ing a visit to Thomas Stone High School Tues­day.

Con­gress­man Steny Hoyer takes ques­tions from stu­dent mod­er­a­tor Tania Har­ris, pres­i­dent of Thomas Stone High School’s Stu­dent Gov­ern­ment As­so­ci­a­tion, dur­ing a visit to the school Tues­day.

Con­gress­man Steny Hoyer speaks with his Thomas Stone High School Ju­nior ROTC es­corts Alzan­dra Wil­liams Jr. and Igura Rehman and Prin­ci­pal Chrys­tal Ben­son, right.

Con­gress­man Steny Hoyer speaks with Thomas Stone stu­dents who have in­terned in his of­fice, Tania Har­ris, Tayana Met­calf and Lon­don Drake.

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