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Kansas students selected for United States Senate Youth Program

Posted: Jan 12, 2017
Categories: KSDE
Author: Ann Bush

Two Kansas students have been selected as delegates to the 55th annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) that will take place March 4-11, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

John Paul Campbell, of Shawnee, and Tel Jacob Wittmer, of Holton, were selected to be a part of the group of 104 student delegates who will attend Washington Week.

John Campbell attends Mill Valley High School, De Soto Unified School District 232, and serves as a senior class representative. He is co-chair of the Political Discussion Club, a Kansas Boys State delegate, and he was recently appointed to sit on a council that will meet quarterly with the school superintendent to discuss improvements of the two high schools in the De Soto USD 232.

Campbell also is a member of DECA, a student group focused on business and entrepreneurship, and the president of the Caddyshack, a student-managed store at his high school. He will continue his baseball and academic pursuits at the University of Central Arkansas, where he has received a Division 1 athletic scholarship.

Campbell plans to major in political science with a minor in either history or a foreign language. From there, he plans on attending law school and obtaining his Juris Doctor.
Tel Wittmer attends Holton High School, Holton USD 336, and serves as the student council president. Additionally, Wittmer is the secretary of the local Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter, the Northeast District FFA sentinel and serves on the Kansas State High School Activities Association student advisory team.

He enjoys participating in football, wrestling, track, select choir, and musicals. He has helped pack meals for the homeless, organized blood drives and volunteered at the Veterans Administration hospital, summer school, youth football camps and nursing homes.

Wittmer plans to attend Kansas State University to major in agricultural economics and attend law school upon graduation.

Chosen as alternates to the 2017 program were Zachary Vega, of Wichita, who attends Wichita High School Southeast, and Grant Daily, of Andover, who attends Andover Central High School.

Delegates and alternates are selected by the state departments of education, after nomination by teachers and principals. The Chief State School Officer or Commissioner of Education for each jurisdiction confirms the final selection.

This year’s Kansas delegates and alternates were designated by Kansas Commissioner of Education Randy Watson.

While in Washington, D.C., the student delegates attend meetings and briefings with senators, members of the House of Representatives, Congressional staff, the president,
a justice of the Supreme Court, leaders of cabinet agencies, an ambassador to the United States and senior members of the national media. The students also will tour many of the national monuments and several museums, and they will stay at the
historic Mayflower Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C.

The USSYP was created by Senate Resolution 324 in 1962 and has been sponsored by the Senate and fully funded by The Hearst Foundations since inception. The impetus for the program as stated in Senate testimony is "to increase young Americans’ understanding of the interrelationships of the three branches of government, learn the caliber and responsibilities of federally elected and appointed officials, and emphasize the vital importance of democratic decision making not only for America but for people around the world."

Each year, the competitive merit-based program brings 104 of the most outstanding high school students — two from each state, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity — to Washington, D.C., for an intensive weeklong study of the federal government and the people who lead it.

The overall mission of the program is to help instill within each class of USSYP student delegates more knowledge of the American political process and a lifelong commitment to public service. In addition to the program week, The Hearst Foundations provide each student with a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship with encouragement to continue coursework in government, history and public affairs. Transportation and all expenses for Washington Week are also provided by The Hearst Foundations.

In addition to outstanding leadership abilities and a strong commitment to volunteer work, the student delegates rank academically in the top 1 percent of their states among high school juniors and seniors. Now more than 5,500 strong, alumni of the program continue to excel and develop impressive qualities that are often directed toward public service.

Members of the U. S. Senate Youth Program 2017 annual Senate Advisory Committee are: Sen. Roger F. Wicker, of Mississippi, Republican co-chair; Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Democratic co-chair; and Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana; Joni K. Ernst, R-Iowa; James M. Inhofe, R-Oklahoma; Pat Roberts, R-Kansas; Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York; Tim Kaine, D-Virginia; Christopher S. Murphy, D.-Connecticut; and Jon Tester, D-Montana.

Each year, the honorary co-chairs of the program are the vice president of the United States and the Senate majority and minority leaders.

For questions about delegates, alternates or the selection process, contact Tamla Miller, the Kansas selection administrator, at tmiller@ksde.org or (785) 296-4950.


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