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Cuthbertson High students get civics lesson from Speaker of House

North Carolina Speaker of the House Thom Tillis speaks to 10-grade civics and economics students at Cuthbertson High School during a recent visit.

Tenth-grade civics and economics students at Cuthbertson High School got some face time recently with NC Speaker of the House Thom Tillis, an opportunity to hear first-hand what goes on in state government.

“We are extremely excited and honored that the Speaker of the North Carolina House Thom Tillis came to speak to our students,” said Cuthbertson High principal Rob Jackson. “We consider it an amazing privilege that of all the high schools he could have visited, he chose a high school in Union County Public Schools to come and share.”

Tillis encouraged students to get involved with government after they graduated. “We need good, young civic-minded people to get involved in politics, because the biggest problem I see with politics is most of us are too old,” he said. “We need young people coming in and serving on all kinds of levels. I hope that some of you will think about ways you can actually go in and serve the community. It’s a lot of fun and you meet some of the most wonderful people around.”
Tillis briefly explained what legislators do in Raleigh by noting how many laws they’ve passed recently. “In 83 legislative days, 470 laws were passed,” he said.

He also told students that for more than 100 years, both the House and the Senate had been under Democratic control, but that, he said, has changed. “Last November, both parties changed and now both are under Republican control,” he said. “We have a Democratic governor, Gov. Bev Perdue, and we have the House and the Senate under the leadership of Republicans. So a lot of what we have to do is figure out how to work together.”

Some of the more than 200 students who came to hear Tillis were given the opportunity to ask questions. One student had a question about the First Amendment, which prohibits government from establishing a religion and protects each person's right to practice (or not practice) any faith without government interference.

“Then why does our Pledge of Allegiance say, ‘One nation under God’?” he asked.

“That wasn’t in the original version,” Tillis said. “It was put in the pledge in the mid 1950s. If it had expressed a single religion or deity, I would raise a question about it, but I think the whole concept of this nation was founded on the existence of a supreme being, so I’m okay with the reference.”

Another student asked Tillis to speak about the least favorite part of his job. “I love working long and hard, so I don’t mind working 14- and 16-hour days,” Tillis said. “I think it’s when people take things personally, and the way the press portrays politicians in our legislative body. I hate the distortion from the reality of what happens in the chamber, and the nonsense you see in the blogs and in the press, because those folks are just trying to sell advertising or get your attention. In some ways, it’s kind of funny, but in other ways, I think it’s kind of sad because they’re willfully distorting reality and misinforming people.”

When the assembly was over, Tillis complimented school administrators on the Cuthbertson students. “This was great,” Tillis said. “I loved all the questions, and they asked some really good questions. This was a well-behaved group of students and a wonderful facility.”

Tillis said Cuthbertson High School was one of 50 schools he has visited this year. “These kids are our future,” he said. “I try to give them a little different perspective, cut through all the noise – they can hear it from the horse’s mouth.

When Tillis’ time with students was over, Jackson said he was grateful that his students had the opportunity to meet the Speaker of the House.

“We certainly appreciate the speaker making time for our students, and we hope that in spending time with our students, it will continue to illustrate to him the importance of our students and our K-12 educational system,” Jackson said.

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Oct 07, 2011 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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