Crescenta Valley High School students posed tough questions to Rep. Adam Schiff on Monday about renewable energy, the statewide primary election and recognizing the Armenian Genocide.
The senior government students spent months learning about Congress and its several roles before Schiff's visit, so being able to hear from him about the committees he serves on was an eye opener, said government teacher Alicia Harris.
"It's exciting when it can come to life," she said.
Speaking to more than 50 students, Schiff (D-Burbank) told students his biggest concern for the upcoming election was being able to repair a broken government system in California.
The new generation of students will be faced with higher college tuition fees and larger class sizes, he said, because poor financial decisions have pushed the state billions into the red.
"I hope we make the right choices on who we pick to run the state of California," Schiff said.
He encouraged students to get involved in political science and public policy because every day is different.
"What I like best about it is that you get to make a difference in someone's life," Schiff said.
He also suggested students apply for internships through his office, which student Sheena Tehrani is planning to do.
"I had been thinking about it, but now after hearing him speak, he is very thorough and definitely personable," she said. "I am encouraged, and hopefully I can be able to intern over the summer."
Student Greg Tashdjian asked Schiff about the status of Congress' efforts to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide, in which 1.5 million Armenians were killed in 1915 by Ottoman Turks.
"It's hard not being recognized, especially for those who gave their lives for us to live and for us to go to school," Tashdjian said.
Schiff has tried repeatedly to push a bill recognizing the genocide through Congress, but each time it has faltered under political pressure from Turkey.
"We are all a little bit cynical, but I think he probably dispelled some of that cynicism," Harris said.
The class sent letters to local, county, state and federal politicians, hoping to learn more about their roles, she said.
Glendale City Council members John Drayman and Laura Friedman and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich visited the students earlier in the semester.
Having government officials visit the class was an interactive teaching tool that Harris planned to continue next year.
"Hopefully, it will grow," Harris said. "I'd like to think that those that came have enjoyed themselves and would just automatically want to do it again."