New Mexico state senator William Sharer has lunch with Farmington High School students during a visit, Monday, Sept. 16, 2013, at Farmington High School in
New Mexico state senator William Sharer has lunch with Farmington High School students during a visit, Monday, Sept. 16, 2013, at Farmington High School in Farmington. (John Austria/The Daily Times)

FARMINGTON — State Sen. William Sharer took time Tuesday to return to his alma mater and talk to students as part of a national effort intended to help young people understand the challenges and opportunities of lawmaking.

Sharer visited with Farmington High School students during lunch and in the classroom to find out about their interests as part of the "America's Legislators Back to School Program."

"I'm hoping to hear from the students and let them ask questions or tell me what they think or what is on their mind," Sharer said. "One of the big things that is important is (that) the next generation coming up be interested in politics and interested in what's around them."

Sharer, a 1977 Farmington High graduate, hoped to encourage and motivate students.

The senator first ate lunch with students in the cafeteria before speaking to social studies classes and ending his trip in the little theater, speaking before two or three classes.

During the course of C lunch, several students joined Sharer's table in the cafeteria.

Students Jason Pena and Anna Grinage along with four others munched on their lunch while discussing topics like the situation in Syria and pollution.

Grinage remembered Sharer speaking to her seventh grade class and visiting his office, adding she was excited to see him again.

"We were talking about what people were interested in, like certain events that were happening," Grinage said. "I feel like I gained something hearing other people's opinions because everyone was just adding what they thought or heard about it and so, I feel like I got more of a view of things."

In Scott Triplett's New Mexico History class, Sharer walked the class through the process of making a state law using the example of a student who wanted a law to allow sodas in classrooms.

State senator William Sharer talks with students in a New Mexico history class taught by Scott Triplett as Farmington High School principal Tim Kienitz, at
State senator William Sharer talks with students in a New Mexico history class taught by Scott Triplett as Farmington High School principal Tim Kienitz, at left, looks on, Monday, Sept. 16, 2013, at Farmington High School in Farmington (John Austria/The Daily Times)

Sharer explained how lawmakers draft a bill and how its contents change over time before moving into the legislative session where the bill is introduced.

Farmington High Principal Tim Kienitz said he thought it would be a good opportunity for the school and students to hear what Sharer had to say.

"He could gain some perspective maybe on what students are learning in school, what things we are trying to teach students and what level of expectation we have for students in the school," Kienitz said.

Pena said he was a little nervous at first talking to the senator but enjoyed hearing his opinions on issues.

"It was a good experience. I liked everything," Pena said. "It was good to get someone higher up in the government opinion's on stuff."

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or jkellogg@daily-times.com. Follow him on Twitter @jkelloggdt.