Stella Stewart asks U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, a question during a video conference Tuesday at Maranacook Community Middle School in Readfield. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

READFIELD – U.S. Sen. Angus King spoke with students at Maranacook Community Middle School on what it means to be a United States citizen and what his role in Congress does to support that. 

He was also asked for his thoughts about TikTok.

The conversation via Zoom on Tuesday morning was part of a topic students in the “Acadia Team” focused on this trimester called “Paths to America.” Under that program, students can speak with and hear firsthand experiences ranging from refugees now residing in Maine that came from South Sudan and Ukraine, to those who have a role in government, such as King, and Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows.  

King spent about an hour speaking to the students about his daily duties as a U.S. senator and and answering students’ questions. The questions ranged from topics of interest to middle schoolers, such as the future of the social media platform “TikTok” — to which King said he would like to either ban or “transfer to an American company” — to more complicated questions about solving racial inequality and homelessness in the state.

U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, talks to students during a video conference Tuesday at Maranacook Community Middle School in Readfield. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Students asked King how they can become involved as citizens locally in Maine.

“In middle school, you can’t vote yet, but that’s the No. 1 thing you can do as a citizen, is vote – we make decisions through voting,” King said. “The second way is to be engaged in the community. Anyone can go to a school board meeting, town council meeting, or select board and anyone can run for any of those offices and have their voice be heard.” 


“The Acadia Team” comprises the classes of teachers Jean Roesner, Dan Holman and Tyne Turcotte, who yearly teach the “Paths to America” topic. The program culminates with a naturalization ceremony in which students get the chance to interview citizen candidates and also features speakers such as Gov. Janet Mills. The middle school splits sixth to eighth graders into “teams” and the chosen topic is integrated into math, social studies and English curriculums. 

The teachers worked extensively with the senator’s communications team to line up King for the class. King’s press team said he regularly visits schools across the state and “puts on his teacher hat,” as King previously lectured at Bowdoin and Bates colleges in Maine.

King, speaking against a backdrop full of books from his house in Brunswick, told students that he could be called back to Washington, D.C., at a moment’s notice if President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy come to an agreement on the federal debt ceiling.

He mentioned that flying to D.C. weekly is one of his tasks as a senator, in addition to attending as many as five hearings a day and voting on bills. His press team briefs him on the issues gone over in the hearings, which he calls his “homework.” Additionally, King said he meets with Mainers to discuss any issues they might have with the federal government.

“I go home and do my homework on the hearing topics, just like you,” he said to the students.  

U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, talks to students during a video conference Tuesday at Maranacook Community Middle School in Readfield. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

The Acadia Team came up with a number of questions for King and asked his thoughts on racial inequality in Maine, the debt crisis, guns and banning books. One of the most pressing issues impacting Mainers right now, King said, is improving broadband internet access for people in rural areas, including central Maine. 


King called banning books a “pre-cursor for dictatorship.”

“Its a terrible idea to ban books — books are ideas,” King said. “It’s the wrong way for democracy.”

Aurora Desjardins asked King the first question on the topic of racial inequality and what Mainers can do to combat the issue, to which King said, “There is no single solution besides being open-hearted and nondiscriminatory.” 

The eighth grader said she felt King respected the students’ questions and that he listened to what they had to say. 

“Personally, I thought it was a really good experience,” Desjardins said. “It seemed like he (King) was interested in what we had to say and that he cares for the state and what we have to say as the younger generation that is going to take care of the state.” 

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