Staff Writer

As Congressman Robert Hurt listened, Appomattox County High School senior Tyler Lucado explained to him on Friday how the school’s agricultural department creates items.

Such items, like metal Christmas ornaments, first go to the drafting class for design, then they go to the agricultural department for final creation by members of FFA (Future Farmers of America).

“But you made this?” Hurt asked Lucado pointing to a box of ornaments that students made.

Lucado explained to Hurt how students use the CNC Plasma Cutting Machine during the process of finalizing a creative masterpiece.

Lucado was among several other students that Hurt spoke to during a visit at the high school, where students showed off projects in honor of agriculture week.

Some students expressed that they were excited to meet Hurt.

“It is not something everyone gets to do,” Lucado said. “He likes to ask a lot of questions.”

ACHS senior Cory Hodges and FFA member, talked to Hurt about woodwork projects that the FFA engaged in.

FFA members have built a series of wood-made items including chairs and have sold them to people in the community.

FFA student and ACHS senior Garrett Woody, who talked to Hurt about livestock shows, enjoyed his visit.

“It was a great experience. I am very glad to have met him. He is doing well for his district,” Woody said.

During his hour-long visit as part of work week, Hurt also talked to history class students and others about politics.

While talking to the history class, Hurt spoke about jobs and federal government spending.

“The things that I think that are very important have everything to do with your future,” Hurt said.

He talked with students about the importance of job creation.

“I want to make sure that by the time you graduate high school, you will have good paying jobs available,” he told students.

The second topic of importance to Hurt is the finances of the federal government.

Hurt informed students about the current federal deficit.

“Every year, we spend $3.5 trillion. We have revenue that comes in that is about $2.5 trillion,” said Hurt. “You can’t spend more than you have coming in.”

While answering questions from students, Hurt also discussed a solution to help reduce the federal deficit, college education financing, and congressional power.

ACHS senior Sarah Slayton asked about how Congress is proposing to deal with the growing deficit.

While answering the question about reducing the debt, Hurt talked about discretionary and non-discretionary spending.

“Discretionary spending is a third of what we spend,” Hurt said.

The other two-thirds, Hurt stated, was non-discretionary spending.

He noted that the only way to fix non-discretionary spending is to reform certain programs.

These programs include Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare.

“Those three programs drive our spending,” said Hurt. “We need to preserve those programs.”

Although there needs to be preservation of the programs, Hurt maintained that there is a need for a change in order to get spending under control.

Hurt said spending is less than what was spent in 2008.

Jenna Hamlett, a senior, asked how Congress could help the middle class pay for college as tuition continues to soar.

“Education is so important. The education you get here is so important for charting your future,” Hurt said. “College is extremely important. There has got to be a way to bring down tuition.”

Hurt talked about different programs that can help alleviate the cost of tuition.

ACHS senior Shuntal Abbitt asked about congressional powers.

“In the elastic clause on what grounds would Congress stretch its power,” she asked.

While addressing Abbitt’s question, Hurt talked about the U.S. Constitution and how the president’s powers as well as Congress’ powers are limited.

“When we start getting in each others’ business, it is bad for Congress and bad for the president. You know whom it is really bad for? It is bad for the people, because those separation of powers protects each of us as individuals,” Hurt stated.

The visit to ACHS was among several for Hurt on Friday as he paid a visit to other schools in the region.

Assistant Principal Poldi Moreno said that Hurt’s visit was a great opportunity for the congressman to share what is going on in D.C.