U.S. Lawmakers Participate in 14th Capitol Forum

Members of Nebraska’s congressional delegation participated in the 14th annual Nebraska Capitol Forum on America’s Future on March 26 at the State Capitol.

U.S. Sens. Ben Nelson and Mike Johanns and U.S. Reps. Lee Terry and Adrian Smith met via video conference with a group of more than 100 high school students to answer foreign policy questions as part of a daylong forum in which the students discuss the U.S. role in today’s world.

The forum is a collaboration of Humanities Nebraska and Secretary of State John Gale. The students and their teachers represented 26 high schools from throughout the state.

Capitol Forum is a civic education initiative designed to give high school students a voice in public policy. For six months, students have studied and deliberated foreign policy issues in the classroom. On March 26, student representatives from each school engaged in discussion among themselves and with policymakers on such issues as immigration, nuclear weapon proliferation, terrorism, international trade, and the global environment. They deliberated on four distinct options for the future of U.S. foreign policy, culminating in a conversation with members of Nebraska’s congressional delegation.

The day began with a welcome by Gov. Dave Heineman and Secretary of State John Gale in the Warner Chamber of the State Capitol. Breakout sessions took place throughout the morning and the deliberation on the four futures and the students’ conversation with the congressional delegation rounded out the day.

After the March 26 forum, teachers and students returned home to share their experiences with classmates, broadening the impact of Capitol Forum to more than 1,500 students statewide. These classes will complete a ballot describing their view of America’s future role in the world. Results of the ballot will be compiled and distributed to elected officials, Nebraska schools and news media.

Capitol Forum is a Choices for the 21st Century project, an outreach educational program of Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies. In Nebraska, Capitol Forum is funded in part by the Nebraska Cultural Endowment, the National Endowment for the Humanities, a state appropriation by the Nebraska Legislature, Janet D. Miller, and A to Z Printing.

Schools and teachers attending the 14th Capitol Forum:

  • Ashland-Greenwood High School (Brian Petermann)
  • Auburn High School (Bryce Roth)
  • Beatrice High School (Joan Workman)
  • Bellevue West High School (Mike McLaughlin)
  • Centura High School, Cairo (George Lytle)
  • Chadron High School (Joe McCarty)
  • Crawford High School (Mary Gould-Traphagan)
  • Dodge Public Schools (Mitch Hoffer)
  • Falls City High School (Lori Rech)
  • Grand Island Senior High School (Tamara Bailey)
  • Hampton High School (Patrick Alexander)
  • Hastings High School (Robert Kerr)
  • Hemingford High School (Dave Chatelain)
  • Holdrege High School (Chad Bailey)
  • Howells High School (Scott Polacek)
  • Louisville High School (Nick Bausch)
  • Millard West High School (Ali Bragg)
  • Norfolk Senior High School (Katherine Steinkamp)
  • North Platte High School (N. Dennis Fornander)
  • Creighton Prep High School, Omaha (Kim Meyer)
  • Duchesne Academy, Omaha (Heidi Reinhart)
  • Marian High School, Omaha (David Anderson)
  • Platteview High School, Springfield (Jon Comine)
  • Stanton High School (Jacob Blum)
  • Sterling High School (Arlo Wusk)
  • Wilcox-Hildreth High School (Ken Meyers)

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