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For release: March 5, 2003

Congressional delegation to attend Capitol Forum

LINCOLN - All members of Nebraska’s congressional delegation have confirmed their plans to participate in the fifth annual Nebraska Capitol Forum on America’s Future on March 24 at the State Capitol.

U.S. Senators Chuck Hagel and Ben Nelson and U.S. Congressmen Doug Bereuter, Tom Osborne and Lee Terry have said they will attend the conference on international issues, either in person or by videoconference. Also expected to attend is U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige, who will be in Nebraska to meet with Gov. Mike Johanns and members of the congressional delegation, the State Board of Education and the Legislature’s Education Committee.

About 65 students from high schools in Ashland-Greenwood, Bellevue, Chadron, Holdrege, Lexington, Millard, Omaha and Wausa will gather at the daylong forum, a collaboration of the Nebraska Humanities Council and the office of Secretary of State John Gale. Fourteen high school teachers are involved in the project.

Student representatives from each school will engage in discussion among themselves and with policymakers and other elected officials on such foreign policy issues as immigration, conflict resolution, the environment and trade. They will debate four distinct options for the future of U.S. foreign policy, culminating in a conversation with Nebraska state senators and with members of Nebraska’s congressional delegation.

The debate begins in the Warner Chamber at 1:40 p.m. The conversation with elected officials and policymakers is scheduled for 2:45 p.m. A discussion of the United States’ 40-year embargo of Cuba, beginning at 3:30 p.m., will be taped by Nebraska Educational Television.

After the March 24 forum, teachers and students will return home to share their experiences with classmates, broadening the impact of Capitol Forum to hundreds of 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 by Brown University to elected officials, Nebraska schools and news media.

Capitol Forum is an initiative of Brown University’s Choices for the 21st Century Education Program. Support for this year’s Capitol Forum comes from Hal and Gretchen Lainson of Hastings and Commercial Federal Bank.

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Editors: For an interview with Secretary of State John Gale, call Shelley Harrold at (402) 471-1572. News media are welcome to attend all sessions of Capitol Forum. For details on the day’s agenda, call Raymond Screws, NHC program officer, at (402) 474-2131, ext. 15.