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University High Student Testifies on Capitol Hill
Tagore, a University High School student from Simsbury, testified before a U.S. Senate subcommittee on Wednesday, stressing the need for more federal education support in the areas of math, science, and technology.
The 16-year-old is a sophomore at the University High School of Science and Engineering, located on the University of Hartford's Asylum Avenue campus. Tagore was invited to Washington by U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), who is co-sponsoring legislation to encourage math and science education to meet the technological needs of the future.
Dodd met Tagore when he visited the University High School in January to promote the package of three bills, collectively titled the "Protecting America’s Competitive Edge" (PACE) Act.
"It was an honor to represent my high school and meet some of the senators," said Tagore. "I don't think I would have had this opportunity at an ordinary high school. I feel blessed to have gotten into the high school's 'Legacy' class."
Tagore was accompanied to Washington by his father, Lloyd Huie, and Martin Leftoff, assistant principal at the University High School. Through Dodd’s office, the group was treated to a tour of the U.S. Capitol complex, including Congressional office buildings.
When it came time to testify, Leftoff said, Tagore could not have been better. He was unflappable as he testified before the Senate subcommittee on education and early childhood development, as part of a program that included a Bush administration education official, two former governors, and education experts from the Advanced Placement Program and the National Science Foundation.
"Josh was typically Josh," said Leftoff. "He walked in the room self-assured and prepared. He was accepted as if he were an adult -- he had that kind of respect."
In remarks prepared for his testimony, Tagore recounted for the legislators "the extraordinary learning environment of University High School," where he is taking courses in physics, engineering, and advanced placement biology, in a schedule similar to that of a college student.
"I believe that if more high school students are exposed to this kind of unique learning experience as a routine part of their high school careers, we could help to shape a nation of young adults who will gain an interest in careers involving math and science," Tagore told the attentive senators.
"In this new millennium, the future of our country depends on it," he said.
The Senate subcommittee’s chairman, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), is a proponent of schools like the University High School, said Leftoff. Alexander expressed concern that too many students don’t get the chance to participate in rigorous high school math and science programs that will help the United States stay competitive in world markets.
But Tagore is already ahead of the curve. He took engineering, geometry and Algebra II as a freshman, and is now taking advanced placement biology. He will also be attending lectures on medicine at a UConn Medical Center program for high school juniors and seniors. In addition, University High School Principal Elizabeth Colli helped Tagore enroll in a summer internship at Trinity College, where he studied the brain.
Tagore said he will try to stay in touch with Dodd, who would like to keep the state’s brightest students in Connecticut. And Dodd certainly seemed to be impressed with Tagore during Wednesday's testimony.
"What you are looking at," said Dodd, as he pointed to Tagore, "is the future."