Palmetto, GA – July 1, 2011 – Sharing the country’s proud heritage comes at a critical time for young people. According to data recently released by the U.S. Department of Education, just 12 percent of 12th graders demonstrated proficiency in American history.*
As such, a tour of the nation’s Capital could be considered a casual visit by some. But for 104 high-achieving high school students and 14 adults from Georgia, a trip to Washington, D.C. for the 2011 Washington Youth Tour provided a keen appreciation of U.S. history and the importance of leadership and service.
From June 9-16, Fayette County High School student Rose Wilmot was among Georgia’s best and brightest sent on the Washington Youth Tour, a leadership program sponsored by the electric membership cooperatives (EMCs) in Georgia, including Coweta-Fayette EMC.
She joined more than 1,500 premiere students from 44 states for the week-long educational experience. The 2011 delegates followed an esteemed group of recent WYT alumni who have graduated as valedictorians, salutatorians and STAR students.
According to Coweta-Fayette EMC Marketing Vice President Mary Ann Bell, the purpose of the Tour is to teach students the values every electric cooperative brings to the communities they serve, promote civic involvement, enlighten youth on today’s pressing energy issues and provide a personal view of the nation’s rich heritage.
For nearly 50 years, more than 50,000 young citizens have traveled to Washington with the help of their electric cooperative. A notable number of Youth Tour alumni are now working as congressional aides and as federal agency staff, and there are many more serving in some role in state and local government. Countless others have taken their places as engaged citizens.
This year, the Tour began with a kick-off banquet in Atlanta. WSB-TV meteorologist and community leader David Chandley served as master of ceremonies, and state Rep. Brooks Coleman, chairman of the Georgia House Education Committee, was keynote speaker.
The group’s first history lesson came in the form of a visit to the Little White House in Warm Springs, Ga., where President Franklin D. Roosevelt died in 1945, and the retreat where many of his important decisions as president were formulated, including the plan to bring electricity to rural America.
In D.C., students gained perspective on today’s important issues and their role as engaged citizens. Everyone had the opportunity to engage with staff and/or members from every member of Georgia’s congressional delegation, including personal visits with leaders Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson and U.S. Reps. Lynn Westmoreland, Hank Johnson, John Lewis, Rob Woodall, Austin Scott, Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey, John Barrow and David Scott.
“We have seen students’ lives transformed by this trip,” said Bell. “The trip gives them confidence, broadens their horizons, and helps them see the opportunities available to them. It also provides them a network of successful young people for life.”
The emphasis on education continued via lunch at the Kennedy Center and tours of the Supreme Court, U.S. Capitol, Mount Vernon, Arlington National Cemetery, Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, and the FDR, Jefferson, Lincoln, Korean and Vietnam Veterans memorials.
Coweta-Fayette EMC is a consumer-owned cooperative providing electricity and related services to over 74,000 member accounts in Coweta, Fayette, Heard, South Fulton, Clayton, Spalding, Troup and Meriwether Counties.
*Source: U.S. Department of Education, The Nation’s Report Card
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