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HFM BOCES receives Congressional visit

Tonko speaks with three students

U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko speaks with three students for the HFM Criminal Justice program.

U.S. Rep. Paul D. Tonko visited HFM BOCES Tuesday, April 12, meeting with students and bringing a donation of books from the Library of Congress for BOCES programs and school libraries throughout the region.

Tonko, who represents New York’s 20th Congressional District, which includes his home city of Amsterdam, secured the book donation through the Library of Congress Surplus Book Program. Each day, the Library of Congress receives more than 20,000 items, but only half of this material is retained in its permanent collection. The remaining items are donated to educational organizations, not-for-profits and others.

The donation to HFM included 75 books valued at approximately $2,500. The books will be used by the HFM Adult Literacy and Corrections Education program and by the HFM School Library System and Instructional Resource Center.

Tonko and Dave Ziskin speak with students seated at two round tables

Tonko and HFM BOCES District Superintendent David Ziskin speak with students from the HFM Adirondack Academy and the HFM Career & Technical Center.

The Adult Education program provides skill development classes in reading, writing and math; high school completion preparation; English as a Second Language courses, and integrated English literacy and Civics Education programs for adult learners. The program also provides a variety of educational and transition services to incarcerated youth and adults.

The HFM School Library System and Instruction Resource Center provides services and educational material to school libraries throughout the area. Last year, the HFM Library System loaned more than 21,000 items including books, teaching kits, educational games and robotic devices to local school districts. The service also provides school libraries with online materials. So far this year, area school districts have streamed or downloaded nearly 13,000 digital books and films through HFM BOCES.

Tonko noted that in today’s social media landscape, literacy and the ability to research information are tremendously important skills for all to learn.

“An informed constituency is the backbone of our democracy,” Tonko said.

During this visit, Tonko spoke with students from the HFM Adirondack Academy Alternative High School and the Criminal Justice program at the HFM Career and Technical Center.

The congressman answered a variety of student questions on topics including mental health, inflation and gas prices, job creation, clean energy, immigration, the war in Ukraine and other issues.

HFM BOCES District Superintendent David Ziskin thanked Tonko for the donation and said it is an important experience for students to have direct access to elected representatives.

“We are very fortunate to have the congressman visit us here,” Ziskin said.

Tonko poses for a group shot with students and administrators