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Students off to learn how govt. works this summer

THE FUTURE OF GOVERNMENT – Oxford High School juniors Mark Schonfeld (from left), Dylan Hency, Jennifer Flanagan, Samantha Murphy and Maurgan Deeg. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
May 05, 2010 - Today, they're bright, eager high school students, but tomorrow they could be our political leaders making policy decisions in Lansing and Washington D.C.

A highly-motivated group of six Oxford High School students have been selected to participate in three summer programs designed to educate them about public service, promote good citizenship and prepare them to someday take the mighty reins of government.

Juniors Maurgan Deeg, Samantha Murphy and Jennifer Flanagan (alternate) were selected to attend the 69th session of the Michigan American Legion Auxiliary Girls State, to be held June 27 to July 3 on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing.

They will join about 400 other young ladies from around the state who will get hands-on training in government.

Juniors Dylan Hency, Mark Schonfeld and Daniel Sottile (alternate) were chosen to attend the 73rd session of the Michigan American Legion Boys State, to be held June 20-26 on the campus of Northwood University in Midland. The boys will join about 750 other young men from around the state.

Both Boys State and Girls State operate as real-life 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.

These kids will learn what it's really like to make the big decisions that affect not just them, but thousands or even millions of other people," said Helen Smith, local chairperson for Boys State and Girls State. "The whole thing is designed to build respect for the democratic process and give kids an understanding of how and why it all works the way it does."

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.

The $325 per student cost for Girls State was paid for by Oxford Women's Club, AMVETS Post 108, Rotary Club of Oxford, American Legion Post 108 and Legion Auxiliary Unit 108.

The $335 per student cost for Boys State was covered by American Legion Post 108, AMVETS Post 108, American Legion Auxiliary Unit 108 and the Rotary Club of Oxford.

After they attend their programs, both the Boys State and Girls State participants will report on their experiences and what they learned to their various sponsors.

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.
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