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Congressman Leads Lesson on Constitution

Nawrin Ahmed, a junior at Herndon High, says she would like the opportunity to be president of the United States one day, but under the requirements spelled out in the Constitution, she is prohibited from making a run for the highest elected office.

So Monday, Nawrin took the first step to changing that when she presented a petition to U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10) with more than 60 signatures seeking a Constitutional amendment.

"Citizens not born here could be president," Narwin said. "We should have the opportunity. I was not born here, but moved here when I was young. It struck me that maybe I won’t have the opportunity to be president."

Wolf was at Herndon High School Monday to speak to two United States/Virginia history classes about the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. Fellow congressman Jim Moran (D-8) had also planned to attend, but had to cancel Monday morning for family reasons.

"I BROUGHT a political science class to meet Congressman Wolf last year and it was really interesting," said teacher Doug Graney. "It gave me the idea to have members of Congress present a historical talk on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. This is the first time I'm having a speaker specifically here to talk about those documents."

Graney said his objective was to give the students an opportunity to see how government works from the inside, but also a chance to meet their local representatives.

So for an hour, Wolf explained the historical significance of the documents and the repercussions they had on the "Founding Fathers," how they relate to current events and took questions from the students.

"The words of the Declaration of Independence are known by students in other countries," Wolf said. "Do you know how many people signed it? Fifty-six. Do you know how many changed their minds? None. And at least a third of those who signed it paid a terrific price. They lost their families, their wealth. It is really a covenant with the whole world."

STUDENTS ASKED Wolf a variety of questions ranging from allowing Washington D.C. to have voting rights in Congress to whether he is ever afraid of being voted out because of votes he has cast to Congress.

Washington D.C., Wolf said, was set up by the Founding Fathers as a capital city and like other capital cities, does not have a vote. He said he does not believe D.C. will ever become a state and should not have a vote in the Senate, but could have voting rights in the House.

As for his job security he said, "I work for you and should listen, but ultimately you vote your conscience."

And as for war, Wolf said Congress hasn't declared war because of the global consequences it would create. He said for example, a declaration of war would allow for the boarding and disruption of other countries' trade ships.

"There are very difficult ramifications on other countries. ... I think there has been a temperament not to because of the political, economical and legal ramifications. ... Sometimes it [war and police action] is a distinction without a difference."

Before Wolf arrived students were looking forward to the open dialogue and had worked on questions to ask the 12-term congressman.

"We always openly talk. We always get the opportunity to participate in class," said junior Alexa Neidermeyer.