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Youth to Washington

By Abigail Gindlesberger and Mallory Thomason
Brushing elbows with Washington D.C. Representatives and Senators isn’t something most high school students get to do, but four Flora High School Seniors were selected to represent Illinois and the Cooperatives of Illinois and America this summer by Clay Electric Cooperative to do just that.
Collin Mosley, Vivian Duquaine, Evan VanHoose, and Cali Wilson were among 2,000 teenage representatives from 43 states that were hand-chosen to travel to Washington D.C. on June 8-14, 2018.
History teacher, Mr. Clayton Plumlee, nominated students to visit Illinois’ Capitol, Springfield, and be interviewed by Clay Electric Cooperative Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Ed VanHoose, on their way to Springfield. While in Springfield, they were able to meet state legislators and tour the capitol building, in order for the Cooperative to see how they perform in those environments. After their day in the capitol, the students were interviewed again by VanHoose on their way home to determine which students would be selected for the Washington D.C. trip. The interview, according to Collin Mosley, was very difficult, because the students were asked why they were more qualified to go on the trip than the person sitting next to them in the car.
The students were nominated based on whether or not they were actively involved, interested in legislature and politics, or if they could have their horizons broadened by the trip.
As the students embarked on the “week of their lives,” as described by Mosley, the thirteen-hour bus ride allowed them to make fast friendships with the other students on the bus from neighboring schools. After making a stop at Gettysburg, Mosley, Duquaine, Vanhoose, and Wilson finally arrived in D.C. to immediately begin their tour.
Duquaine expressed how much she loved Gettysburg by describing how gorgeous the scenery was. Although Gettysburg was her favorite place to visit, she goes on to say that going back to the hotel was her second favorite place, because she was able to speak with multiple kids from different states.
Wilson’s emotions ran high while visiting The Holocaust Museum. Realizing the impact the war had on the people and their families made her see a different perspective of how the people actually lived in the concentration camps.
The Washington National Cathedral holds a special place in Moseley and Duquaine’s hearts because they were asked, on television, to present gifts to the altar during the service.
Other inspiring places the students were able to tour were all the legislative buildings. VanHoose was in awe of the buildings because he was able to see “how real they were.”
When asked what their future plans were in politics, the students all had different goals. Mosley, having the most interest in a government career, mentioned his love for politics culminated in the eighth grade stating, “I wanted to serve people.”
VanHoose had a very different opinion, expressing how he tries not to get involved in politics, but he “dabbles.”
Duquaine feels she needs to be educated about the laws, and rules that affect her, and her community.
Though Wilson isn’t really involved with politics at the moment, she stresses how important it is for her to start learning as much as she can about the government. As a career, she would like to go into a medical profession that works for the Government.
Though they have differing opinions, the students agreed their personal relationships made with other students on the trip were the highlights of their trip. Mosley mentioned the hotel was another of his favorite places because all of the teens on the trip were able to be together and get to know each other.
Professionally, the students were able to meet Congressmen and women, Senators, and Representatives in Washington. Mosley was granted the opportunity to have breakfast with Congressman John Shimkus.
Though few of the students on the trip had prior knowledge of the government and how it works, they all admit to gaining a greater understanding of the government and how utterly complicated the system is.
Even if they have no future plans for a career in politics, all of the students agree the knowledge and memories gained on this life-changing adventure will prove to be invaluable treasures.

Posted by on September 4, 2018. Filed under Features,Special Events. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.