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News Justice Clarence Thomas Celebrates Constitution Day with Lincoln and Omaha Students

Justice Clarence Thomas Celebrates Constitution Day with Lincoln and Omaha Students

It isn't everyday that high school students welcome a sitting Justice of the United States Supreme Court to their campus. But, on September 16, students at Lincoln High School and Omaha's Northwest Magnet Schools greeted Justice Clarence Thomas who spent more than an hour addressing the students and answering their questions.

At Lincoln High, Baccalaureate students and other students in upper level Social Studies classes filled the Ted Sorensen Theater where Justice Kenneth Stephan, Nebraska Supreme Court, introduced Thomas. Dr. Mike Wortman, Lincoln High Principal, made the arrangements for the Constitution Day assembly.

The Justice told the students that he never set a goal of serving on the Supreme Court. He explained that, at each age, he simply tried to do to his best ability whatever was set before him to do. He shared that one summer he had to teach himself Algebra 1 so he would be ready to take Algebra 2 when the school year started. Learning what is set before you, he explained, teaches you discipline. He likened the process to the course of study set before the Lincoln High students and encouraged them to do their best at each stage of their education. Being appointed to the Court only 24 years after graduating high school, Thomas asked the students, "Will you be ready after high school to do the same?"

At Northwest Magnet High School, students wrote an essay explaining why they wanted to hear Thomas. The winners of the contest were chosen to sit in the courtroom of the school's Law, Government, and International Diplomacy Academy where Thomas made his presentation. Other students were connected via closed circuit television and distance learning technology. Thomas was introduced by Justice Mike McCormick, Nebraska Supreme Court.

Thomas told the students about the significant role his grandfather had played in raising him and his brother. Growing up in southern Georgia, Thomas said they spoke a dialect that caused him to have problems in learning the English language. He said that, when he saw a word he did not understand, he would look it up in the dictionary and learn its meaning. After that, he said, he "owned" that word.

Thomas was most cordial in answering questions at both high schools. At a reception coordinated by Northwest teacher Jackie Nielsen, Thomas visited one-on-one with students and encouraged them to confront their fears. He advised them to "Look at your fear. You confront it. And you walk through it. If you're going to do something important, it's all hard"


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