Senator Murkowski visits Nikiski North Star Elementary

"I don't ever want to come into a school and not see books," said United States Senator Lisa Murkowski to 170 third, fourth and fifth grade students sitting cross-legged on the carpeted floor of the Nikiski North Star (NNS) library. "So, I've brought you a gift for your library, the book Arctic Lights, Arctic Nights by Debbie S. Miller and Jon Van Zyle, the illustrator." Thirty minutes earlier, Senator Murkowski gifted the first graders with the book Kumak's House, and read aloud to the students. First grader Thayne Quiner received special recognition for his gorgeous artwork titled Bursting Fire, which not only won first place in the National PTA Reflections visual arts contest, but is now heading to hang in the Capitol.

The older students had time for questions, and asked some good ones, beginning with "Who is your boss?" Senator Murkowski asked students how they would answer, and garnered a flurry of responses, finally responding, "I work for everybody in the state of Alaska. I need to be listening to the people I represent, and the people I serve." One boy said, "Cool! That means I'm your boss!" Then she asked for their help in order to "make your school and town a better place." Students offered their ideas, including, "we can help with community service, get rid of pollution in the oceans, take care of our fisheries, keep animals safe, make sure oil stays away from sea animals, save our King Salmon, teach people to pick up your stuff when you're done with it, make more fields trips …" Senator Murkowski laughed with the last comment, and agreed how valuable field trips are, explaining how much she learns when she travels around the state. The conversation went on with students learning that there is no such thing as a typical day in her life as the Senator. She spoke about how she became a U.S. Senator in an unusual way—first as an appointee, then winning the next election when she knew she had to "prove to Alaskans the job I do is good enough to do it again!" She shared winning her 2010 write-in election campaign when everyone who wanted to vote for me had to "learn to spell my name!"

"Don't be afraid of a little hard work, it's good for you. It causes you to stretch," said Senator Murkowski in parting. Perhaps the students will remember her words when they look to the United States flag she gave NNS as a gift, and recall her sitting in the midst of them on the library floor for a photo, very much a part of the group.

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