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Kansas students selected for United States Senate Youth Program

Posted: Jan 15, 2020
Categories: KSDE
Author: Ann Bush

Two Kansas students have been selected as delegates to the 58th annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) that will take place March 7-14, 2020, in Washington, D.C.

Elizabeth Iris Kim, a senior at Manhattan High School, and Benjamin Sah Jin Willits Posch, a senior at Eudora High School, were selected to join the 104 student delegation that will attend Washington Week. They each will receive a $10,000 scholarship for undergraduate study.

Kim serves as the student body secretary at Manhattan High School, Manhattan Unified School District 383. She is a nationally recognized saxophonist, having won multiple concerto competitions, and was a first alto at the All-National Honor Ensemble. Kim represented Kansas as one of two female senators at Girls Nation, and she received the President’s Volunteer Service Award for her work with the foster care system.

Kim, who is an editorial board member for her school’s literacy magazine, plans to major in political science with a joint concentration in economics.

Posch, who attends Eudora High School, Eudora USD 491, serves as the state president of Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) and is president of the Posch Foundation, a nonprofit organization that he founded that pioneers initiatives focused on improving the community. He also has been a three-term local FBLA officer, a two-term Science Olympiad officer, a three-term student body representative and has received the gold level of the President’s Volunteer Service Award.

Posch is a part-time student at the University of Kansas, working to complete a triple major in political science, international relations and finance. He hopes to graduate in 2023.

Chosen as alternates to the 2020 program were Matthew Inman, a resident of Erie who attends Erie High School, and Reed Krewson, a resident of Overland Park who attends Blue Valley Southwest 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 56 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.

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.

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 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."

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.

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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