New Hanover High School students
had a special civics lesson on Thursday, Oct. 11, as
U.S. Sen. Richard Burr
made a visit to talk about what lawmakers do in Congress.
Burr spoke with a large
group of students and teachers gathered in the school library, using a
hypothetical example of free ice cream days at school to explain the many steps
involved in taking an idea, making it a bill and passing it into law.
“You’ve done it exactly
like we do it in Washington; you’ve just done it about a year and a half
faster,” Burr, R-N.C., told the students.
Burr also took questions
from students and teachers about a variety of topics, including gay marriage,
(Burr said it was a state issue but that he voted to end the military’s Don’t
Ask, Don’t Tell policy), abortion (Burr said that issue was decided by the
Supreme Court) and the upcoming presidential election (Burr said Mitt Romney
was his preference because of the nation’s difficult financial issues.)
“Typically I’m going to
get questions from students, and I got a few today, that their parents would
never ask me at the Rotary Club when I speak at lunch,” Burr said during an
interview following his discussion with students. “They typically will ask me
questions that they hear parents talk about around the dinner table but are too
scared to ask. So I find that students will always be much more candid than
Among those in the
audience were several students from Ukraine who were visiting for a couple weeks
through the Foundation for International Professional Exchange.
“It’s extremely important
to begin to expose kids in K through12 to the global nature of the world because
our economy is global,” Burr said.
About 18 students from
Ukraine were visiting, along with several educators, New Hanover High principal
Todd Finn said.
“It’s just a willingness
to have our doors open, to have our hearts open,” Finn said. “It’s really been
a phenomenal experience.”
The foundation began in
the 1990s as a way to bridge countries and let teachers and students meet each
other and share ideas, points of view, culture and traditions, said Nataliya
Zdanovych, a foundation representative from Ukraine.
Several teachers commented
that it was an incredible opportunity to have an elected official such as Burr talk
to the children, said Jennifer Selden, a local director of student exchange for
Students in attendance
included New Hanover students Philip Green and Ryan Faircloth, who have visited
the Ukraine, and Ukrainian students Dima Savchenko and Andrey Shelest, all
“Just being exposed to
such a different part of the world kind of opens your mind,” said Green, who
said his favorite part of Ukraine was the food, particularly the borscht soup.
“Going over there has
definitely opened my mind to different perspectives,” Faircloth said.
Shelest said he liked how
Americans use technology in their studies during school.
“In our country we
(mostly) use books,” Shelest said.
Savchenko said he enjoyed
a recent Powderpuff football game at the school.
“It was very funny,”