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South Carolina’s House Speaker paid a visit to a Midlands high school on Thursday.

Speaker Bobby Harrell traveled to Dutch Fork High to speak with teacher Kelly Payne’s civics class. The Speaker had been invited by students who phoned in during his recent appearance on Keven Cohen’s The Afternoon Drive radio show.

Harrell answered questions from students, discussed his goals for the current legislative session and detailed new House rules for recording votes.

“This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these students,” Payne said. “The fact that the Speaker took time away from his important duties to speak to the next generation of public servants was not lost on them.”

Prominent leaders have become a fixture in Payne’s civics lessons. Her class’s previous guests have included state Reps. Nikki Haley and Nathan Ballentine, Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom and Irmo Mayor John Gibbons .

“Having spoken to her class, I am always impressed with just how engaged these students are and how involved they are,” said Ballentine, whose district includes Dutch Fork High.

Ballentine commended Harrell for taking the time to meet with students in his district. “I appreciate the fact that the Speaker of the House of Representatives was willing to meet with the students in Kelly Payne’s class. This was a unique experience for the students, who got to talk with one of the state’s most influential players, as well as for the Speaker Harrell to impact a group I am sure will one day define the future of our community and our state.”