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'Work hard,' Inouye tells students


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POSTED: Friday, February 20, 2009

U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye told students at Aiea Intermediate School yesterday that he is a product of Hawaii's public schools who became chairman of the most powerful committee in the Senate, the Appropriations Committee.

“;If I can make it, you can make it,”; said Inouye, “;but you have to work hard.”;

Inouye's visit to Aiea Intermediate was part of the Teach for America Week, during which state and community leaders visit public schools as guest teachers to give lessons gained from their lives and career. This is the first time Inouye has participated.

Under the Teach for America program, recent college graduates commit to teach for two years at disadvantaged public schools.

There are 105 teachers on Oahu who belong to the organization. Collectively, they teach about 9,000 students, according to Jill Baldemor, executive director of Teach for America in Hawaii.

Three teachers at Aiea Intermediate are corps members.

Inouye, 84, fielded some questions from some seventh- and eighth-grade math students, ranging from the economic stimulus bill to the restoration of Kahoolawe.

He also spoke about how his grandparents immigrated to Kauai from Japan to work as plantation laborers. Inouye, who attended public schools in Hawaii from his elementary through high school years, also spoke about his military service during World War II.

Twelve-year-old Brooks Tanonaka said he was privileged to have Inouye visit his school.

“;I feel very special that he came here, because out of all the schools, he came to this one. I feel very lucky,”; said Brooks.

“;The kids really resonate with him. He is such a model for them,”; said Baldemor.