‘This job is about service’

For all the power and prestige of politics, educating the young is a more important job than holding public office, says Congressman Ray LaHood.

He should know. Rep. LaHood has been both a school teacher in the Diocese of Peoria and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C.

Rep. LaHood was first elected to Congress in 1994. He is retiring this year after serving seven two-year terms as the representative for the 18th Congressional District, which includes 20 counties in central Illinois.

On Wednesday, Oct. 8, Rep. LaHood paid a visit to Holy Family School in Peoria to help teach a civics lessons to the junior high students there. Students asked him many questions about his job, about how Congress works, and about the national election coming up next month.

“We talked a lot during the summer about how we can get the kids more involved, because I felt this was a pretty important election,” said Mrs. Sharon Zogby, Holy Family School principal.

“I think this whole election is going to be very historic for our kids,” she said, because it will either give the United States its first African American president or its first woman vice president.

Rep. LaHood’s visit was just one of the ways Holy Family School is teaching its students about the nation’s political system. Homemade election posters hang throughout the school, and a large bulletin board presents a summary of the platforms and campaign promises of Senators John McCain and Barack Obama.

The election unit began with a pre-election vote in the junior high computer class (Sen. McCain won by four votes).

Rep. LaHood’s talk was also a homecoming for him. Long before he ever thought of running for Congress, Rep. LaHood taught at St. Joseph’s School in Pekin and Holy Family School in Peoria. Teaching helped to spark his interest in politics.

“Things really do come full circle,” he said.

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