HYATTSVILLE – Neico Joy can’t remember the last time he flew on an airplane and the Prince George’s County seventh-grader can’t say when he might fly again.
But airport security was on his mind Friday when Rep. Steny Hoyer, D- Mechanicsville, came to Hyattsville Middle School to talk to Neico and his classmates about the recent terror attacks and their fallout.
“It’s good to know there will be security guards at the airport,” Neico said after Hoyer reassured students, who asked about everything from airport security and unemployment to fear of trick-or-treating.
“Be confident that you are OK. You are safe in this school,” said Hoyer, who spent about an hour with the students. “The important thing is that we are Americans and that we love our country.”
One student asked why terrorists were trying to “scare the United States.” Another asked what other countries thought of our country.
“The good news is, the overwhelming majority of countries on every continent. . . all believe that terrorism is unacceptable. Terrorism cannot be allowed to flourish or be present in the world because everyone suffers as a result,” Hoyer said.
He stressed that students should not judge people because they belong to a certain faith or religious group, adding that the terrorists “have done things that are not consistent with their religion.”
“We need to be very, very careful that we make judgments on what people do, not what they are,” he said.
He urged the students to consider becoming pen pals with children in Afghanistan, and also praised them for raising money to help others.
Hyattsville Middle students have raised $300 for Afghan children and more than $3,000 for the American Red Cross. They have also made posters promoting peace and patriotism, that hang throughout the school.
“I feel better about all of the stuff we are doing to help,” said student Molly McGeady.
Still, McGeady said she fears that she may get anthrax from her Halloween candy. Her mother does not want her to get the mail, and may not let her go trick-or-treating, she said.
“I frankly think you need to be careful with trick-or-treating,” said Hoyer. We have had instances where crazy people put stuff into candy. Don’t be fearful, be careful.”
As he left the trailer where he had been peppered him with questions, Hoyer students like those in Dwan Jordan’s language arts class help dispel the bad impressions of young people from media coverage.
“I love to meet with young people because they are so real,” said Hoyer. “The overwhelming majority of young people are so insightful and so reflective.”