May 09, 2012 - Today, they're living according to rules set by their parents and school. Tomorrow, they'll be the ones making and enforcing the rules we all live by – so be nice to them.
Representing Oxford are (from top to bottom) high school juniors Corey Jones, Joseph Lint, Piper Thaler, Ashton Hulbert and Jordan Pieczynski. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
A bright, energetic group of five Oxford High School students were selected to participate in three summer programs designed to educate them about public service, promote good citizenship and prepare them to someday take the might reins of power.
The first two programs are known as Girls State and Boys State. Both operate as real-life government simulations in which participants serve as public officials in mock city, county and state governments of their own creation.
Students learn the duties and functions, as well as the powers and limitations, of various public offices in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government.
During the week-long programs, participants engage in a variety of activities including campaigning for office, voting for candidates, enacting laws, formulating public policy, participating in conventions for mythical political parties, learning parliamentary procedure, problem-solving and practicing the art of compromise.
Juniors Jordan Pieczynski and Ashton Hulbert were chosen to attend the 71st session of the Michigan American Legion Auxiliary Girls State, to be held June 17-23 on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing.
"It's a great honor," Pieczynski said. "I'm going to learn a lot of skills and test my ability to participate in society.
"I signed up because I thought I could someday help lead others and I wanted to learn more about government and how it works. I think it's really interesting," explained Pieczynski, who's a member of the varsity lacrosse and swim teams, student council (secretary) and the National Honor Society (NHS).
"I just think it's an awesome opportunity to represent our community and I'm really excited about it," Hulbert said. "My dad went to Boys State when he was younger, so I learned about it from him. It seemed like a good chance for me to learn more about our local government."
Hulbert is currently president of the student council, a member of NHS, a member of the varsity cheerleading and track teams and involved in the district's anti-bullying program known as Bully Busters.
Of the Girls State program, Hulbert said, "I'm really not sure what I want to do (for a career), but I think this will teach me a lot about something that I might want to do in my future."
Juniors Piper Thaler and Joseph Lint were selected to attend the 75th session of the Michigan American Legion Boys State to be held June 17-23 on the campus of Northwood University in Midland.
Describing himself as a politically-aware individual, Thaler is definitely looking forward to increasing his knowledge and sharpening his skills. "This is a good opportunity for me to get involved in politics at a younger age," he said.
Thaler is a member of the high school's Political Activism Club and will be attending the July 1-5 Michigan Freedom Academy, a leadership development program for high school students.
"I often find myself either watching the (television) news or hearing stuff on the radio about policies or things said by congressmen or senators that I don't like," he said. "I figure instead of complaining, I should be active in trying to change it."
Thaler is "absolutely" considering a future career in politics. From Boys State, he's "hoping to gain in-depth experience of what it's actually like to be a politician."
He's hoping to someday be elected to either the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate.
"I lean to the Right. I'm pretty conservative," said Thaler, who plays for the varsity lacrosse and football teams.
While the others are busy drafting and approving laws, OHS junior Corey Jones will be learning how to enforce them as part of the Youth Career Law Enforcement program to be held in July and August at the Michigan State Police Training Academy in Lansing.
"I'm really excited to participate in this program," he said.
Designed for students interested in a career in law enforcement, participants will experience simulated drug busts and traffic stops, learn to safely shoot a gun, work with police canines, learn basic crime lab and forensic techniques, experience intense physical training, learn defensive techniques, first aid and crash site techniques.
"I have an interest in criminal justice. I want to get into that field," Jones said. "I've always thought doing that would be a good direction for me."
Jones is open to pursuing a law enforcement career at either the local, state or federal level. His interest was spawned by a combination of family members who work in the profession and watching crime-related shows on television.
"I want to protect others," said Jones, who's captain of the swim team.
As always, the costs for these summer enrichment programs are being completely – and generously – covered by American Legion Post 108, American Legion Auxiliary Unit 108, AMVETS Post 108, the Oxford Women's Club and the Rotary Club of Oxford.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.