May 22, 2013 - Three Oxford High School students will spend part of their summer exploring the world of public service.
OHS juniors (from left) Brianna Hughes, Noah Johnson and Kristen Godwin will be part of hands-on learning experiences this summer involving government and police work. (click for larger version)
Juniors Kristen Godwin and Brianna Hughes will attend the 72nd session of the Michigan American Legion Auxiliary Girls State, to be held June 16-22 on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing.
They will join hundreds of other young women from around the state who will receive hands-on training in government.
Girls State operates as a real-life simulation in which participants serve as public officials in mock municipal, 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.
"One day, these young people are going to be running things, so they need to know how and why our democratic process works," said Helen Smith, local chairperson of Girls State. "They're the future and if we're going to stay a free country, it's going to be up to them to keep it that way."
During the week-long program, students engage in a variety of activities including campaigning for office, voting for candidates, enacting laws, formulating public policy, participating in conventions for fictional political parties, learning parliamentary procedure, problem-solving and practicing the fine art of compromise.
"My dad has been telling me about (Girls State) since middle school," Godwin said. "When I heard the announcement, it kind of clicked and after I learned more about it, it sounded like a great opportunity."
She is hoping Girls State will allow her to improve her public speaking skills and give her "an inside look into how the state is run and how the towns and the county work together."
"I've taken a lot of social studies and history classes, so it will really reinforce everything I've learned so far," said Godwin, who's a member of the National Honor Society, a mentor to freshman students and a runner for the cross country and track teams.
She is working to gain admission to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She wants to be either an optometrist or physical therapist.
Attending Girls State will definitely help prepare Hughes for her future.
"I want to get into politics as a career, so I thought this would be perfect for me," she said.
Hughes is hoping to someday work for the United Nations in the area of international relations/security. She wants to tackle the big issues like war and peace.
From her Girls State experience, Hughes is hoping to gain "a better understanding of how the system actually works." She's got a basic understanding from her civics classes, but she's looking for something more in-depth.
Hughes plans to attend Michigan State University's James Madison College, a public affairs residential college, where she'll major in international relations.
She's currently a member of the OHS Spanish Club and next year, she plans to join the International Club and I'm Third, a volunteer group.
OHS junior Noah Johnson will also be learning about public service, but his experience won't involve enacting laws, it will be about enforcing them.
Johnson was selected to participate in the Student Trooper program to be held July 14-19 at the Michigan State Police Training Academy in Lansing.
Designed for students interested in a career in law enforcement, participants will learn proper handling of firearms, self-defense techniques and water safety. They will take crime lab and forensics classes, undergo intense physical training and experience other aspects of a law enforcement career.
"When I get older, I want to be in law enforcement," said Johnson, who indicated he's considering applying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Academy in Quantico, Virginia.
"I would like to help people. And I think it would be more interesting than a desk job."
The desire to protect and serve seems to be embedded in the young man's DNA as his grandfather was the deputy chief of police for Clinton Township and his uncle is currently a police officer for that department and a SWAT team sniper.
Johnson, who's a member of the OHS varsity football team, is hoping the Student Trooper program will give him "a firsthand look at what (being a police officer is) like."
"I think it would be nice to experience it, instead of just hearing about it," he said.
Johnson is considering attending Grand Valley State University to pursue a degree in criminal justice. "It's probably my Number One choice," he said.
Godwin and Hughes are being sponsored by the Oxford Women's Club, AMVETS Post 108, the Rotary Club of Oxford, American Legion Post 108 and American Legion Auxiliary Unit 108.
"Thank you to the (American) Legion for giving me this great opportunity," Godwin said.
Johnson is being sponsored by the Rotary Club of Oxford, AMVETS Post 108, American Legion Post 108 and American Legion Auxiliary Unit 108.
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.