State representative Brandon Smith addressed a group of students from the middle school and a group of juniors from the high school about the importance of knowing history, government and being proud of who they are.
Smith told the students that it is crucial for them to know history because it is only by knowing the past that we avoid making the same mistakes in the future.
Smith said he knows that sometimes the way history is taught in the classroom gets boring, but if the students really study history, they will find just how interesting it really is.
He also explained to them how the government works. He used demonstrations to illustrate the role lobbyists and special interest groups play in getting bills passed. Smith told them of difficult compromises that are made every day in Frankfort. He said he is faced with complex decisions regularly, and that is all a part of being a member of the state government.
Smith also told the students that the state House of Representatives is the most powerful law-making body in the state.
"No bill becomes law until it comes back through the House," said Smith.
He said it is because of that power that state representatives face elections every two years, instead of every four years, like the state senate.
He also stressed to the students that they should be proud of being from eastern Kentucky. Smith said others often underestimate people from this region, so he urged the students to use that to their advantage.
Smith also told the students they should be proud of the way they speak.
"You are the last treasure chest of Chaucerian English," he said. "Never let anyone say anything about the way you speak."
When asked what his favorite part of his job is, he told the students that hearing from people he has helped through his work is very satisfying to him.
He also said the most serious and somber part of his job came following the Sept. 11. 2001, terrorist attacks when representatives met to transfer their powers to the governor.
"Freedom is not free, and the world is a very dangerous place," he said.
Smith also spoke to the students about his intern program, where he allows students to work with him for a day. During that day, the student experiences first-hand the daily routine of a state representative.