By Seth Littrell
For the Register
Students in an eighth-grade American history class at Clark-Moores Middle School put aside their history studies Monday to discuss current events with U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Sixth District.
Barr spoke to the students for an hour in the school gym about his responsibilities in office and answered a number of questions from the students about political issues.
Teacher Sharon Graves said she met Barr while leading a student field trip to the World Equestrian Games two years ago when Barr was first running for office.
They made an agreement that if Barr were to win a congressional seat, he would make time to stop by the school and speak with her students.
“He said, 'If I win, I’ll come visit the school,’” Graves said. “He lost.”
But after Barr won his second bid for Congress in November, he made good on his promise.
The congressman opened his visit with a speech on the importance of voting.
“I ran for Congress the first time and came up just short,” Barr said.
“We lost that race by 647 votes out of over 200,000, so it goes to show that every vote counts. When you all become eligible to vote, don’t let anyone tell you that your vote doesn’t matter or that you can’t make a difference, because you can make a difference.”
Barr then opened the floor to the students who had questions covering a variety of topics, from things as light-hearted as a day in the life of a congressman to major issues such as health care, the federal deficit and illegal immigration.
After the question-and-answer session, student Joseph Espanoza and other students in Graves’ class presented a declaration of independence to Graves as part of a class project in their study of American government.
The students declared they wanted to be free from certain policies in Graves’ class, such as her prohibition of using words like “stuff” and “things” and imposing strict limits on when students may use the restroom.
Barr signed the declaration and helped the class win their independence, if only for a day.