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Rep. Perry impressed by MAHS students; congressman talks with club, gets tour of school

By Laura Hayes

laurahayes@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 5/8/19

Middletown Area High School students on Friday quizzed U.S. Rep. Scott Perry on a number of topics, including his stance on prison reform and solitary confinement, abortion and medical and …

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Rep. Perry impressed by MAHS students; congressman talks with club, gets tour of school

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Middletown Area High School students on Friday quizzed U.S. Rep. Scott Perry on a number of topics, including his stance on prison reform and solitary confinement, abortion and medical and recreational marijuana.

The York County Republican took a tour and met with students in the Youth and Government Club.

“They’re really an impressive bunch of young people that have thought through things and have very poignant, critical questions. Quite honestly, it gives you a lot of faith in our future. When they think they’re the future leaders, they’re the current leaders. They just need to be put in a position. That’s the only difference,” Perry said.

Senior Terrance Jefferson said club adviser and MAHS English teacher Caitlin Hunt met with Perry during a recent trip to Washington, D.C. She shared his contact information with the district, who arranged the visit, Jefferson said.

Youth and Government began planning as soon as members heard Perry was coming to visit.

The meeting was “wonderfully interactive,” Perry said.

“I think they made me think about some things, but I also think I made them think about some things,” he said.

To senior Aayushi Patel, having the opportunity to meet your U.S. representative and talk and ask questions one-on-one was an enlightening experience.

“He’s a really cool guy that wants to talk to you, wants to hold discussions, wants to have conversations with you. It’s great to have discussions no matter what your political belief is with someone who represents you and have him actually listen to you,” Patel said.

Perry’s visit was part of a tour of his new district. Perry’s old 4th District did not include Middletown, although it did include parts of Dauphin and Cumberland counties and York and Adams counties. The 10th District he has represented since January includes all of Dauphin County and parts of Cumberland and York counties.

From constituents, Perry said he’s heard concerns about school safety and education in the workforce.

With Three Mile Island scheduled to prematurely close in September and legislation proposed to make TMI and other nuclear plants eligible for credits that electric utilities would have to purchase, Perry said he’s heard “a little” regarding nuclear power from constituents.

“It’s hard to legislate for one particular location. Legislation is usually broader based, and that makes its own challenge,” Perry said.

During his tour of the high school, Perry asked district administrators what their education needs are. When asked if any of their comments surprised him, Perry mentioned Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Christine Mostoller’s comment on how the district could use something akin to a clinic to accommodate mental health needs.

“Look, our society is evolving, and either we’re not handling things as well or maybe we’re just now recognizing some things that had not been recognized in the past,” Perry said, adding that’s why these visits are helpful.

To Jefferson, Perry’s visit represents some of the work that the students in Youth and Government do throughout the year.

The club attended the YMCA’s Youth and Government Model Convention from April 11-14 at the state Capitol where the students stepped into the shoes of politicians. Middletown students held some of the highest positions with Jefferson taking on the role of the Gold Speaker of the House, junior Angelina Torres serving as Blue Senate Public Heath and Welfare Committee chairwoman and Patel assuming the second-highest cabinet position as the Blue Senate Liaison of the governor’s administration.

The convention is based on the real legislative bodies, Patel said. The skills that they build in Youth and Government are the same skills needed in a real government setting, Jefferson said.

The meeting with Perry is what government is about — meeting with your elected officials, Jefferson said. At the convention, they tell the delegates to meet with the politicians that they elect to advocate for their views and to get their bills on the floor.

“That’s exactly what we did today,” Patel said.

“We advocated for our views and beliefs by meeting with our national representative,” Jefferson added.

People often think that it’s not worth it to discuss politics, or they blame the government for being inefficient, Jefferson said.

“But a democracy is a system of government where the elected officials are only as efficient as the people that elect them. We have to try our best not only to try to work with them, but make our opinions voiced and go out and be the voice that is our government. At the end of the day, the people have the power to vote anyone in or out that they so choose,” Jefferson said.