ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BY JULIE ANDERSON
U.S. Government students at Hillsboro High School participated in a 30-minute video-teleconference with Sen. Pat Roberts last week.
During the three-way conference, also held with Marion High School, students had the opportunity to ask questions of Roberts about his position on various topics.
?It?s something none of them have participated in before,? said Jim Robb, instructor. ?It?s not something high school students get to do very often.?
To prepare, students were sent a packet of information, including a biography on Roberts and his position on several topics.
Robb said some of the students also did research in the library and on the Internet.
?This was kind of unique in that they had time to prepare,? Robb said.
Students asked questions about U.S. involvement in the United Nations and North Atlantic Treaty Organization actions, national terrorism and agri-terrorism, biochemical weapons and trade relations with China.
Robb said the experience was different also because students did not have to share the stage with any other groups or the public.
?It was just a good experience,? he said.
The schools were invited to participate by Roberts?s office.
Robb said it was the school?s technology and capability of holding a video-teleconference that prompted the call. After considering the opportunity, Robb said they felt it would be worthwhile.
Roberts, a long-time advocate of investment in science and technology in Kansas schools and universities, is one of the first senators to utilize the Senate?s new capability to conduct video-teleconferencing over the Internet.
He is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee, where he is chairman of the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee.
The subcommittee works to ensure the United States is prepared to counter threats to national security, such as terrorism, biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, information warfare, bio-terrorism, and drug trafficking.
Robb said students felt the exercise was worthwhile because it gave them a chance to see a more personable side of the senator. Many were surprised to find out he had a sense of humor, he added.
Students also thought the senator seemed interested in hearing what they had to say.
?Sen. Roberts commented afterward he thought the quality of questions was high,? Robb said.
He said they want to stay in contact with someone from Roberts?s office on a regular basis.