VVS students talk politics, citizenship with congresswoman
VERONA — Rep. Claudia L. Tenney, R-22, visited a group of eighth-grade students at Vernon-Verona-Sherrill Middle School via the Skype telecommunications service this morning. The visit was part of Tenney’s “Congresswoman in your Classroom” listening tour with students, and during the visit Tenney talked politics, and the students’ future place in the world.
“I think it’s exciting that Congresswoman Tenney is talking with us,” Porter Russ, a student in Brad Myatt’s social studies class, said before the event.
“She is from New Hartford, and now has gone all the way to the White House. It’s great that this powerful woman is taking the time to speak with us,” Russ added.
Tenney spoke to the students about how she became involved in politics.
She studied art at Colgate University. Her studies brought her to Italy, and then work with the U.S. Embassy to the former Yugoslavia during the 1984 Sarejevo Winter Olympics. Her experiences led her to become a human rights lawyer.
Tenney began her political career after being elected the 22nd district’s first assemblywoman in 2010. She told one student that serving in Congress is more exciting than the state Assembly. “Politics is hard, and I don’t always like it,” she said. “There is so much corruption in Albany. In Congress I don’t have to beg to have a bill passed.”
Tenney told students they should use their lives to make a difference in the world around them. She encouraged military service, as it had made a difference in the life of her son, Wayne “Trey” Cleary III. Cleary is serving as a First Lieutenant with the Marines. He has been deployed to Iraq.
Tenney said she visited her son and other troops this past Thanksgiving, where she served them dinner. “My son told me he’d rather be back home for Thanksgiving and I told him it’s more important to be where it’s not safe but making a difference,” she said.
Tenney told students they have a chance to impact their world. The impact could be helped with the knowledge offered to them.
“You have access to all sorts of information on your cellphones, which is something I didn’t have growing up,” she said. “You can be informed quicker, and put that information into action.”
Tenney urged students to develop the qualities of integrity, compassion, courage, and tenacity while pursuing their life goals.
“In our country we may make mistakes, but we can change those mistakes. We can pass new laws; not every country will change their laws,” she said.
“You have a chance to make a difference. Never think it’s too late to change your life foals. I’m 56, and I still am wondering what I may do,” Tenney said.
Myatt’s students showed enthusiasm before Tenney’s speech; two students tried to sneak into the class but were turned away.
"We appreciate Congresswoman Tenney allocating her time to provide our middle school students with the opportunity to Skype with her," said Middle School Principal Carrie Hodkinson. "Middle school students appreciate feeling empowered and having a voice. Through this experience, they were allowed to share their ideas and ask questions regarding issues that they face or hear about day to day. Students will forever remember this event and the impact it had on their lives at such an impressionable age."