Rokita dodges balls, shakes hands with future voters

Friday, April 17, 2015
Taking a break from the rigors of a congressman's life, U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita takes part in a game of dodgeball Friday in the Cloverdale Middle School gym. As the chairman of the House Subcommittee on K-12 Education, Rokita spent part of the day gathering information about the effects of federal dietary guidelines on local schools. (Photo by JARED JERNAGAN)

CLOVERDALE -- In town ostensibly to visit POET Biofuels and Cloverdale Community Schools, U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita nonetheless found an opportunity for some levity Friday afternoon at Cloverdale Middle School.

While guiding the congressman to see Tim Savini's seventh- grade social studies class, Principal Dawn Tucker discovered that Savini, instead, had a group of students in the gymnasium. As part of the CMS CHOICE Program, the kids were being rewarded with a game of dodgeball.

Learning the students were there as a reward, Rokita wanted to be a part of the game.

"I deserve a reward," the Brownsburg Republican said. "I've been in Congress all week."

And after a short visit to another classroom, Rokita and District Director Matt Steward joined the seventh- and eighth-graders in a couple of rounds of dodgeball, with the congressman eliminated quickly the first game before helping guide his team to a quick victory the second time around.

Rokita thanked his hosts for the diversion upon completion of the second game.

"Thank you for that," he said. "That will just make me ready to go back to Congress for another week."

Although Rokita's visit featured more serious matters such as reviewing the impact of federal dietary restrictions on local schools, the congressman seemed to most relish the moments shared with his young District 4 constituents.

Visiting the CMS cafeteria, Rokita asked questions about the food, but also more fun queries such as "tell me who the troublemakers are."

Pointing to his House of Representatives lapel pin, he asked a group of girls, "Do you know how much this pin cost me?"

The lesson was that the privilege to wear that simple lapel pin had cost more than $1 million in campaign funds.

During a surprise visit to a class taking a math test, Rokita was asked for at least the sixth time on Friday if he'd ever met the president. He also praised questions regarding his favorite bill he's ever had passed and the most ridiculous bill he's ever seen introduced.

Moving on to the high school later in the afternoon, Rokita discussed the positives and negatives of his job.

"It's the highest honor of my life," he began. "It's also a rough job."

As the chairman of the House Subcommittee on K-12 Education, Rokita has visited many schools. Drawing upon this experience, he had high praise for Cloverdale.

"I've been in so many schools and I'm convinced it's not the building and it's not the money," he said. "It's about the adults in the building.

"I can already tell this is a good school and your teachers care a lot about you," Rokita said.

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