At the invitation of a Springfield High School civics class, U.S. Sen. Bernard Sanders stopped by the high school to share some of his thoughts about government and democracy.
"If you don't pay attention to government, that's fine, you're joining most Americans," the senator said. "But if you do, you won't wonder why the top 1 percent of Americans make more money than the bottom 50 percent. Your generation is facing more problems than any generation has faced for 70 years."
Among them, Sanders said, was chronic unemployment.
"There are 27 million people who can't find jobs, or find the kind of jobs they need," Sanders said. "We are the only industrialized country that doesn't guarantee health care for all its people. The national debt you're going to inherit is $12 trillion, and we have two wars going on."
Student questions covered a number of topics. One student wanted to know the state of epilepsy research.
"An awful lot of money goes into the National Institutes of Health," said Sanders, who added that he believed current health care legislation would eventually pay for itself.
Junior Alexis Locke asked about being able to afford UVM, her school of choice when 74 percent of freshmen come from out of state.
"We're a small state," Sanders said. "They argue that they can't get enough funding to support in-state students."
Later, Locke said she liked what she heard, particularly the National Health Corps. That's a government program which forgives medical student debt in exchange for five years of service in underserved areas.
"I learned that if you get a job in the medical field that you can give back to the government," she said. "I'm looking into radiology, which is definitely in the medical field, and I hope to go to UVM. I should be able to go if I can get a government grant."