Long County High School freshman Holden Riddle is enthusiastic about U.S. government.
“Government is my favorite class,” he said. “So I asked my dad, ‘Did people like governors and congressmen visit schools and talk to students?’ He said they usually would if they were asked.”
So Riddle sent an email in January to U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Ga. — like Riddle, a freshman, but in Congress — asking if Carter would visit his school.
“He said he would,” Riddle said.
And he did Thursday.
Carter arrived at the school after lunch and was greeted by Riddle, several school administrators and members of the Long County Board of Education. Carter was taken to Riddle’s U.S. government class, which is taught by Jason McElveen. Carter briefly told the students about his job, then fielded questions from the class.
“What is it was like to be a U.S. congressman?” asked one student.
Carter said his district, the 1st Congressional District, covers 17 counties, including most of Liberty and Long, and has more than 750,000 people in it. He said representing this many people — from north of Savannah to the Florida line — was a little overwhelming at first, but he is fortunate to have a very good staff. He also said that he has experience both as a mayor and state representative, and having this experience and having quality people around him makes his job much easier.
“How do you deal with the haters?” asked another student.
Carter said: “It is difficult at times, but I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter what you do, you’re not going to make some people happy. People are only as happy as they want to be. … I just try to do the best job that I can for the 1st District.”
After Carter answered all of the students’ questions he was led into the band room, where several members were practicing with director Terry Kenny. The award-winning band played a song for Carter and the other guests.
Carter then was led by Long County School System Superintendent Dr. Robert Waters into the prekindergarten class, which is taught by Lauren Caslen. Waters told Carter that the class uses students to assist in the teaching process, with the hope of drawing more teachers back to the school system.
After touring the school, Carter said that ensuring quality education in Georgia is one of his highest priorities and that he is proud to be on the House Education and the Workforce Committee.
“These kids are our future, and I want to do all I can to ensure that they get the best facilities that they can along with the best curriculum,” he said.
Carter said he is glad Riddle invited him to Long County High and that visiting people and organizations always would be a priority for him.
“It’s important to respond to people, it shows them that we are paying attention to them and listening to their voice,” Carter said. “I’m really glad Holden asked me to come today. I want more of our kids to care about their future and get involved.”
School Principal Scotty Hattaway presented Carter with a gift basket and commented on the congressman’s visit.
“We were honored to have Congressman Carter stop in and visit Long County High School,” Hattaway said. “I want to thank our student Holden Riddle for making this happen. The congressman’s visit was quite an experience for us and our students.”
Riddle said: “I’m so thankful for Congressman Carter coming to our school. I know it meant a lot to me, and I think everyone enjoyed getting to know him.”
Others on hand for Carter’s visit included school-board Chairwoman Janet Watford and Vice Chairwoman Julie Dawson, Long County High Assistant Principal Michael Taylor and Assistant Principal Sherry Lester.