Select students from Fort Mill, Nation Ford headed to ‘State’

joverman@fortmilltimes.comMay 31, 2013 

  • More information They’re headed to ‘State’ Girls State, Fort Mill High School: Carolyn “Jamie” Davis, Arianna Grevious, Chelsea Helms, Peri Imler, Alt: Gabrielle Seymore Boys State, Fort Mill High School: Kyle Brooks, Avery Carter, William “Shuler” Cotton, Ross Lordo, Quinn McKemey, Trevor Pickitt, Clayton “Clay” Pratt, Mason Strohl Boys State, Nation Ford High School: Michael  Swanson, Philip Werner, Marques Coleman  Girls State, Nation Ford High School: Ryan Dykes, Briana Iorio, Caelie King 

— For a week this summer, some of the “best and brightest” from Fort Mill and Nation Ford high schools will attend Palmetto Boys State and Palmetto Girls State.

“I really believe in what these programs do for leadership training for our young people. These are our best and brightest,” Fort Mill High School principal Dee Christopher said.

Both Girls State and Boys State teach students about state and local government through mock campaigns and elections. At the beginning of the week, students are divided into “cities.” Elections are held for offices ranging from city representative council to mayor and governor.

The experience is right up Kyle Brooks’ alley. Remember that name. You may see it on CNN or in the pages of a newspaper someday. While he has his eye on an appointed position, not an elected one, learning about government could certainly be useful for Brooks, who has more than a casual interest in politics and public service.

“I’m going to be secretary of state,” Brooks said.

Avery Carter reads the newspaper every morning. Understanding how government works is critical to understanding current events, he said.

“It’s important because this is how things are run. You need to read the news, understand and know what’s going on,” Carter said.

Rising seniors are nominated for the summer leadership programs by a teacher and selected through an interview process. Palmetto Boys State is sponsored by the American Legion. Palmetto Girls State is sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary.

Six girls from Fort Mill High School were interviewed for Girls State but only four were selected to attend. The girls knew that two would be cut before they went through the interview process.

“So you went in with that added pressure,” Fort Mill High School student Peri Imler said.

And there weren’t any softball questions thrown in.

“Tell us about the last book you read that was inspirational.”

“Where do you want to be in ten years?”

“Tell us about overcoming a struggle.”

That one was easy.

“I related that to chemistry,” Imler said, laughing.

Several students, like Brooks, are already thinking ahead about how Boys State and Girls State can help them reach future goals. For Imler, learning more about the inner workings of government will help her as she pursues her goal of working in the field of international child adoption, sh said. Chelsea Helms plans to be a nurse and hopes to learn more about creating government policies and offices, such as coroner.

But the lofty goals of education and career advancement come in second to the No. 1 goal: Making new friends.

“I want to meet some lifelong friends,” Nation Ford High School student Philip Werner said.

“Just meet new friends and have a really great experience at the same time,” Nation Ford’s Briana Iorio said.

The students are selected for the program based on their existing leadership skills and involvement in school activities. Many already have experience in student government. Brooks is student body president at Fort Mill High. Helms is president of the Fort Mill High senior class. Werner is Nation Ford’s student body president.

Higher offices may be in store for them. Many of the students selected for Boys and Girls State were interested in running for an office during the summer program.

“The highest I can get,” Iorio said.

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