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Congressman visits high school

ABHUTCHISON, Sierra Sun

U.S. Rep. Wally Herger (R-Calif.) met with Tahoe-Truckee High School seniors Monday in an informal “town meeting” before touring the school and meeting with Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District board members and staff.

This is the congressman’s first visit to Truckee’s high school in his 14 years of service to Congress, said TTUSD Technology Coordinator Jim Maass, who invited Rep. Herger to the district and helped organize his visit.

“I invited him to come to Truckee High School and he accepted,” Maass said. “When I was a government teacher at Truckee High, I invited politicians to come and visit our students. This was a good opportunity for an elected official to come and speak to our seniors. It was an opportunity to show off our school, especially our technology center and TV studio, which Truckee High is very proud of.”

Rep. Herger spoke to the seniors about his role in politics, how the legislative process works and opened the floor to student questions and comments.

“I represent the views of you and your parents,” Herger told the seniors. He urged them, as they approach the voting age, to get involved in politics and be informed about government activity.

“If you’re not happy with your government, you need to be involved,” he said. “And if you are happy with it, you also need to be involved. I want to encourage you to get involved in the political process and get involved with what’s going on.”

Students asked a variety of questions on issues ranging from college student loans and police brutality, to his opinion on imposing random drug testing on student athletes, which has sparked controversy among some TTHS students.

“I really believe (drug testing in schools) is a local issue,” Herger said, responding to students’ zealous interest on the subject. “My opinion is that we should do anything we can do to ensure that schools are drug-free zones … You’re probably not going to like this, but I would favor that (random drug tests for student athletes).”

TTUSD Superintendent Pat Gemma said the congressman said he was impressed with TTHS students.

“He really enjoyed meeting the students and said he felt well-received. He was impressed with the high school, especially with the quality of the students’ questions and with their attentiveness,” Gemma said.

Gemma and school board members Cindy Gustafson and Mel Cone had lunch with Herger, and discussed a variety of issues the district faces, including funding for rural school districts with high snowfall, full funding of federal special education mandates and school vouchers.

“I appreciated the opportunity to meet him face to face,” Gemma said. “That’s always a good thing to do with our representatives. Our discussions over lunch were very productive.”

Lakeside TTUSD board member Cindy Gustafson said Herger was sympathetic to the issues a rural school district faces.

“I think he gave us some good ideas about forming coalitions with other rural districts,” she said. “In general, we have such an involved community, but we don’t have the political power to get money from the state and decide how we want to spend it.”

Following spending time with Truckee’s students, administrators and board members, Herger met with Tahoe Forest Hospital staff to discuss issues facing rural hospitals.

“You name it and it’s an issue,” said Keith Dunn, a field representative for Rep. Herger. He added meeting with TFH staff was “good, first-hand information.”


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