Kennedy, McGovern Visit Schools to Announce Grant

October 31, 2017 GMT

LEOMINSTER -- It was only in the last few minutes, as two of the state’s congressional representatives tried to take as many questions from high school students as possible, when it appeared the Q&A would unravel.

Massachusetts 4th district Congressman Joe Kennedy III pointed to one student in the audience and leaned forward to better hear what he was being asked over a few giggles in the auditorium.

“Is it true my uncle faked the moon landing?” he said, repeating the student’s question before flatly replying, “No.”

Kennedy and Leominster’s U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern paid visits to Leominster High School and Sky View Middle School Monday afternoon as part of a an announcement of a three-year, $375,000 grant to fund after-school programming at Sky View, but as Kennedy explained after his Q&A at LHS, the day was more about promoting civic engagement.

“I’m fortunate enough to do visits like this throughout my district and they’re a great opportunity to get what’s on students’ minds,” he said. “Not only do we want them to know their views count and matter, but we hope this will spark conversations between themselves and parents.”

Kennedy began with asking what students care about most, which eventually gave way to a series of questions that he, McGovern, and state Rep. Natalie Higgins began taking turns answering. Questions initially focused mainly around education and college affordability before branching off into climate change, gun control, health care, and rights of LGBTQ community members.

“These are our future leaders and they had very detailed and thoughtful questions. I really enjoyed this,” McGovern said. “This is an impressive school and an impressive group of students.”

LHS senior Andrew Brennan’s question had been centered around political corruption on the federal level and what the congressmen were doing to help address it.

When asked if he was satisfied with his answer, Brennan replied “They seemed like they have the right ideas, but I don’t know what they’re actually going to do with them... I feel a bit disappointed, but I get that we only had five minutes to talk and cover all of that.”

Though she didn’t get the chance to ask a question, senior Alyssa Tata said she had enjoyed the visit and thought the discussion had been an informative one.

“I think they did a good job for what people were asking. Some of the questions were obviously harder to answer, but I think they addressed the issues well,” she said.

In the last year, both Kennedy and McGovern have reported an increase in younger voters and students reaching out their offices with questions and concerns. McGovern noted Monday that his office is currently experiencing a record number of applications for internships.

“Since the November election, there are an awful lot of folks, regardless of political ideology, that want to get engaged one way or another,” Kennedy said. “I think part of the responsibility of an elected official is then to tap into that energy and help those individuals channel it, however they see fit.”

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