DIXFIELD — About 30 Dirigo High School students asked U.S. Sen. Angus King questions about Syria, immigration and cyberattacks by China via a video chat program while he was in his Washington, D.C., office Wednesday.

King, I-Maine, was between Senate votes when he took the time to talk to students, most of whom were in government classes taught by social studies teacher Mike Nolette. 

King plans to hold Capitol Class with most, if not all, of the high schools in the state during his six-year term. It is part of his effort to digitally connect with young people, according to a news release from his Washington, D.C. office.

Wednesday was Dirigo’s day.

Although King’s voice came through loud and clear, the visual image didn’t appear on the screen.

“I appreciate that he took time out to Skype,” said Justin Jasper, a senior from Peru who plans to attend Arkansas State College to study sociology in the fall.

Jasper attended the National Young Leaders Conference in Washington last year, where he met U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both Republicans from Maine.

Hunter Ross of Dixfield, who plans to study pharmacology after graduation, said he was amazed that King talked in such depth on each question.

King explained that the Syrian situation calls for understanding of three issues: Whether Syria has chemical weapons, what the U.S. wants to accomplish if it enters Syria and how does it get out.

“I’m one saying ‘slow down,’” he said.

Ambyr Wilson, a senior who plans to attend the University of Maine to major in nursing, thought it was cool that he took time to talk with the students.

“This made us feel special and up-to-date,” she said.

Kate Bonney of Peru asked King about the cyberattacks by China on American companies, while others questioned the status of the immigration bill and how he raises campaign funds when he’s not affiliated with either the Democratic or Republican parties.

King emphasized how a small state such as Maine is considered to have common sense because of its past and present moderate representatives who often work together despite party affiliation.

Nolette said Wednesday’s communication link to the nation’s capital was a capstone event for government students.

“They really got to see what’s going on,” he said.


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