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Bush, Quayle Stress Education in Youths' Inaugural 'Civics Event'

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Washington--The nearly 9,000 high-school students attending an inauguration-week youth forum here were treated to an array of political speeches, celebrity appearances, and music--as well as a bit of personal confession from Vice President-elect Dan Quayle.

"I wish I had taken my education more seriously," said Mr. Quayle, whose academic record was the subject of critical scrutiny during the Presidential campaign.

Together with a surprise visit from President-elect George Bush, Mr. Quayle's comment was among the highlights of the forum, the second of the week's events devoted to education.

If not as long on substance as a session for teachers the day before, the young people's event nevertheless reflected inaugural planners' unprecedented efforts to demonstrate the commitment of the new Administration to education.

In his remarks to the students, Mr. Bush stressed the link be4tween education and freedom and voiced hope for the role education would play in America's future.

"I do see a brighter America," Mr. Bush said. "I see an America that respects teachers and the noble role they fill in our society. I see an America that makes it easier for families to save for college expenses. And I see an America that respects excellence."

Civics Event

In addition to Mr. Bush and Mr. Quayle, those attending "Looking Forward: An Inaugural Forum" heard from Secretary of Education Lauro F. Cavazos and two of the better-known political figures in the new Administration--former Representative Jack F. Kemp, the Secretary-designate of Housing and Urban Development, and former Secretary of Education William J. Bennett, Mr. Bush's nominee for the new post of "drug czar."

After calling on students to give a round of applause for the teachers in the audience, Mr. Cavazos asked the students to commit8themselves to hard work and staying in school. In addition to teaching the basics, he argued, schools should teach "virtue."

"The three components of virtue are justice, temperance, and courage," he said, urging, among other advice, that students abstain from drug and alcohol use.

Mr. Kemp promised to "continue to wage the war on poverty" in his new position. He also advocated the creation of more magnet schools in inner cities.

Like many of the speakers, Mr. Bennett lauded the inaugural as a celebration of a "peaceful transition of power."

Astronaut and Athlete

Not all the speakers were politicians, though. Also addressing the students from 700 schools across the country were Jon McBride, an astronaut; Yakov Smirnoff, a Soviet immigrant and professional comedian; John Sculley, president of Apple Computer Inc.; and Mark Kelso, a member of the Buffalo Bills football team.

James Hayes, publisher of Fortune magazine, gave the students a brief geography quiz. He asked members of the crowd to stand and close their eyes, picture a map of the United States with Washington on it--and then turn in the direction of Japan.

Not all the students turned in the same direction. Drawing a lesson from that seeming confusion about the world, Mr. Hayes told the assembly, "You will be the first generation of Americans that will have to compete not just with each other, but with other young people around the world."

Respite from the speeches was provided by Washington's Eastern High School choir, which took second place last year in an international competition in Vienna.

Among its other selections, the choir sang "We Are The World," prompting the entire crowd to stand, clap, and sing along.

Those who did not get seats close enough to see could watch the speakers and singers on two giant video screens flanking the stage.

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