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A lesson in presidents from a U.S. representative

© St. Petersburg Times
published March 3, 2002

HERNANDO -- The small faces were quietly and expectantly turned to the guest in Dave Bierley's third-grade classroom at Hernando Elementary School. The children attentively waited for U.S. Rep. Karen Thurman to begin reading.

She had been invited to their classroom to help them appreciate the presidents who were commemorated last month, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

Thurman read George Washington and the Cherry Tree from The Children's Book of Virtues and Young Abraham Lincoln, the Log Cabin President to the 18 children.

After the stories highlighting truthfulness and integrity were finished, the children shared stories that they had written about times they had lied or disobeyed and what the consequences had been.

One child had had a party while her parents were away. Another had sneaked out to play with a pellet gun, and another had not stayed out of the refrigerator until dinner. The party girl was "busted." The sharpshooter was "grounded for three weeks" and the snack snitcher had to do chores "for a whole lot of days!"

Then the children were invited to ask Thurman, D-Dunnellon, any questions they might have about life in Washington, D.C., her job or the president.

Is she ever on TV? "I am sometimes," she said.

Does the president have a swimming pool? "Yes, . . . I think. I've never been invited to swim. And there's a bowling alley and a running track."

Why is the president on TV almost every day? "Well," she said, "he's a news maker."

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