Congress Meets Nutley High School
Every year, AP Government and Politics teacher Mr. Steven Digregorio invites Nutley’s Representative to talk to students about the issues that matter most. On May 29, 2019, Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill took questions from both AP Government and AP Macroeconomic students in the NHS Media Center. She covered everything from the conflicts in Iran to impeaching President Trump, answering every question with detail and precision.
Rebecca Michelle “Mikie” Sherrill is the newly elected representative for New Jersey’s 11th District, which Nutley is a part of. Originally from Virginia, Congresswoman Sherrill told the students she decided to join the Navy to experience a world bigger than herself. She continued her education at Georgetown University where she graduated with a law degree. She told the NHS students that her experiences as an academic and as a pilot have allowed her to see politics with a global view.
This idea of thinking outside oneself is the main reason Mr. Digregorio invites Congresspeople to speak to students. “Many of [my students] are voting soon, so having these conversations help [students] think nationally about issues,” he said.
As the third Congressperson to visit Nutley High School, Mr. Digregrio has had experience orchestrating this type of event. “Typically members of Congress are in D.C. Monday to Thursday or Tuesday to Thursday so the days that they are in district are packed,” said Mr. Digregorio. “It just worked out that the day that we did this she was in district and she had time in her schedule.” He did note that in comparison to the other Congressional visits he has put together, this one took longer than usual to plan. Mr. Digregorio attributed that to, “her newness to the position.”
The importance of this type of interaction is not lost on Mr. Digregorio. “I tell every scheduler and district supervisor that every interaction is [for the students], not for me,” he described. He went on to say that Congresswoman Sherrill was “thrilled” with the questions students were asking.
Students were grateful to speak their Congresswoman as they got the chance to ask her about the issues that matter most. “The most fascinating part about Mikie Sherrill’s visit was the way in which she incorporated ambiguity into her answers,” said Senior Zawar Ahmed who takes AP Macroeconomics. “As a part of the trade, many politicians answer questions in roundabout ways, and she was no exception. It was fascinating to watch her somehow arrive at her answers. Words such as ‘black’ or ‘poor’ were substituted for ‘urban’ and questions on college tuition ended in inconclusive grey areas. Maybe it was all due to the time constraints, or maybe it wasn’t, but it was riveting to see how she weaved her way through obscure acronyms and got to answers no one had been anticipating.”
Though some students did not agree with her stances, being able to hear Congresswoman Sherrill’s answers in person allows them to make thought through decisions when it comes time to vote, which is the most important part of this event.