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Rockford Register Star


 Anderson made a real difference The former presidential candidate returns to Lincoln Middle School to receive an award.
By Corina Curry
November 1,2002

John B. Anderson wove stories of election reform and war crimes with those of meeting celebrities and former presidents when addressing Lincoln Middle School students Thursday.

The former presidential candidate, U.S. congressman of two decades, former Winnebago County States Attorney and former Lincoln student was in town to help the school celebrate its 75th anniversary and receive the first Capstone Award for achievement by an alum.

On what might have been Andersons first visit back to the school since he graduated in 1937, the lifelong politician got an opportunity to speak with children, tour the building and reminisce about the days when he first walked the hallways.

I was very impressed with the level and type of questions I was asked by the children, Anderson said after speaking with an eighth-grade history class. Im very favorably impressed with how they are not only refurbishing this school but also having a tangible effect on the minds of these young people.

Students posted welcome signs in the schools hallways greeting both Anderson and fellow Capstone recipient Dr. Timothy Johnson.

I thought it was really cool to see John B. Anderson and hear what he had to say, said sixth-grader Renee Derr. When he answered the questions, you could tell he was a good politician.

Other students thought Anderson was cool because hes met a lot of famous people such as John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Paul Newman and international leaders. Most students said they identified with Anderson because he attended their school.

Its kinda cool that we got to meet someone who ran for president and that he was from our school, said 12-year-old Ashley Cortinas.

Anderson, 80, now teaches law at Nova Southeastern University in Florida and serves as chair of the Center for Voting and Democracy and president of the World Federalist Association. Hes also a guest lecturer and remains active in his support of several political issues from election and campaign finance reform to monitoring the escalating conflicts in the Middle East.

In John Gustafsons American History class, inquisitive students asked Anderson about his family, why he ran for president, why its so hard for a woman to become president, what he thinks of the current president and what he thinks about the crisis in Iraq.

And Gustafson, a teacher at Lincoln since 1983, finally got to meet the guy he voted for for U.S. president in 1980.

I was totally enthused by his campaign back then, Gustafson said, proudly wearing a John B. Anderson for President campaign button on his suit jacket lapel. I had always thought that he would have made a tremendous president.

Gustafson said he was happy for the kids in his class, too, who had a chance to speak with Anderson after the assembly.

Heres a man who is a part of history and still is a part of history in the making, he said. This is a person who made a real difference in the political process and international affairs. Were always telling them that even one person can make a difference. I think hes an example of that.


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