Getting political

U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., takes a few minutes to listen to concerns from Kyle Petitt, a senior at Bradford Area High School, before talking to the senior class at an assembly Tuesday morning. Kyle said the Congressman scheduled to meet with him after he tried to e-mail Thompson about concerns he had of Section 309 of the Intelligence Authorization Act, which talks about the acquisition of electronic communications.

“I want to encourage you to be lifelong learners.”

U.S. Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Pa., offered these words Tuesday when students at Bradford Area High School received a rare treat — the chance to talk directly with a national legislator.

Thompson came to Bradford Tuesday morning to talk with senior government students about his career and to answer questions from the budding constituents, according to Tim Baumbach, 12th grade history teacher.

Baumbach explained the congressman was coming to talk about his role in government. Thompson visited a few years ago for the same purpose, he said.

Ken Coffman, dean of students, offered a brief biography of Thompson to the students before the talk began.

According to Coffman, Thompson is a resident of Howard Township, Centre County, and began his first of four terms representing the Fifth District of Pennsylvania on Nov. 4, 2008.

Thompson summarized his life into “three simple words”: Purpose, principals and passion. He talked to the students about how the words describe the way he lives.

For him, he found his life purpose of “making a difference in other people’s lives” when he was 11 and went to Boy Scouts with the foster child his parents adopted.

He said tasks such as his continued involvement with the Boy Scouts, his long-time nursing home career and his volunteer firefighter work bring him closer to that goal.

Regarding principles, Thompson told students he asks himself about four things before making decisions: His duty to God, his duty to his country, his duty to others and his duty to himself.

He offered some important advice about passion as well. The congressman told the students to do what they were passionate about and advised them not to take skeptics to heart. “Don’t let folks discourage you,” he said.

When the floor was opened to student questions, the youths offered an array of topics they had concerns and questions about.

He was asked about such things as his take on natural gas drilling and hydrofracturing, whether he offered aid during the large water break this past winter in Bradford, what he knows about the cost to residents recently connected to the Bradford Sanitary Authority’s sewer system, the hardest bill he’s had to vote on, the most surprising thing he’s learned, whether he goes through security in Washington, D.C., and how much weight he can bench.

Incidentally, Thompson said now he can “bench a fork and a spoon at the same time,” but added he was recently inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. He was a high school wrestler.