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Kansas students selected for United States Senate Youth Program

Posted: Jan 22, 2019
Categories: KSDE
Author: Ann Bush

Two Kansas students have been selected as delegates to the 57th annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) that will take place March 2-9, 2019, in Washington, D.C.

Eli Greyson Blaufuss, of Newton, and Benjamin Scott Sawaya, of Overland Park, were selected to be a part of the group of 104 student delegates who will attend Washington Week. They each will receive a $10,000 scholarship for undergraduate study.

Blaufuss is a junior at Newton High School, Newton Unified School District 373, and serves as student body secretary/treasurer. He is a member of Key Club, an organization that puts an emphasis on leadership through service projects.

Blaufuss plans to attend college and double major in political science and history. He then plans to attend law school. He wants to work as a lawyer in either business or criminal law.

Sawaya, a senior at Blue Valley Southwest High School, Blue Valley USD 229, serves as president of the National Honor Society, senior class secretary and has participated in Overland Park’s Teen Council.

Sawaya started his school’s chapter of Business Professionals of America (BPA) and earned first place at the state competition for the Legal Office Procedures event. He serves as an attorney within the Johnson County Youth Court Project.

Sawaya plans to attend college and study business and finance with a minor in political science. He wants to eventually attend law school.

Chosen as alternates to the 2019 program were Benjamin Suh Jin Willits Posch, a resident of Eudora, who attends Eudora High School, and Alejandro Rangel-Lopez, a resident of Dodge City, who attends Dodge City 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.

In Kansas, applicants have to pass a multiple-choice exam based on state and national government and write an essay. This year, the Kansas State Department of Education received 58 applications. The exams and essays are graded, and the top 10 applicants are interviewed by phone. Final selections are made by KSDE staff members, and delegates and alternates are authorized by Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. 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 5,700 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 2019 annual Senate Advisory Committee are: Sen. Joni K. Ernst, R-Iowa, co-chair; Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, co-chair; and Advisory Members Susan M. Collins, R-Maine; Steve Daines, R-Montana; Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Mississippi; John Kennedy, R-Louisiana; Michael F. Bennet, D-Colorado; Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nevada; Maggie Hassan, D-New Hampshire; and Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland.

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.

For more information on USSYP, visit www.ussenateyouth.org.


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