In the fleeting break between May and August, some teens are sofa-warmers, some teens are travelers, some teens are workers, whi
Summer. For many students, this time of year means waking up late, lounging in front of the television and spending time by the pool, working on that ever-elusive tan which always seems to be stuck somewhere between bright pale and a painful shade of red.
However, several Morgan County High School students chose to skip time poolside and, instead, continue their education, taking part in a variety of life-enriching experiences.
Rotary Youth Leadership Awards
Eleventh-grade student Wesley Glosson attended the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) in Tallulah Falls.
The four-day-long camp focused on leadership and team-building skills, and allowed students to implement these skills in various outdoor activities, including hiking, rock climbing and whitewater rafting, which turned out to be Glossonâ€™s favorite activity as well as one he learned the most from.
â€œMy favorite part would probably be learning to whitewater raft,â€� Glosson said. â€œThe concept is the same. You need the team to be successful while whitewater rafting.â€�
Glosson learned a lesson in diversity, which he anticipates will serve him well later in life.
â€œThere are many different beliefs and many different ways and systems of doing things and they all work,â€� Glosson said. â€œThere are also many different methods of leading.â€�
Glosson plans on taking the skills acquired at RYLA and applying them to his leadership duties with Morgan County High School 4-H.
James Moore, Joseph Moore, Austin Sharp, Pierce Walker and Chanse Adams, all currently in 12th grade, attended Boys State â€" a week-long program devoted to education on the government at the city, county and state levels. The program took place at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro in June and the students estimate there were approximately 435 young men in attendance.
Participants were broken up into cities, according to which hall they were staying in. Overall, there were 16 cities, four counties (as four cities made up a county) and the counties together made up the state. Each participant ran for various government positions, many of which required campaigning.
Students took part in instructional blocks each day, where they learned about the various branches of government. Each student was required to fulfill the duties of his position in the government, whether writing legislation or handing down a sentence in court. Speakers included Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, a Vietnam War veteran, a representative of the Department of Corrections and an Abraham Lincoln look-alike, who gave a motivational speech. There was also an athletic period each day.
According to the Morgan County High School students in attendance, highlights of the week included watching helicopters land, a live television show filmed at the camp and, something no camp would be complete without, pranks. Apparently, participants of Boys State and those in Girls State, which convened at the same time, snuck out in the middle of the night and switched shirts so that, in the morning, the boys were wearing Girls State shirts and the girls were wearing Boys State shirts. Turns out, itâ€™s a tradition.
After attending Boys State, Morgan County participants reflected on what exactly they took from the experience.
â€œI learned more about the Georgia state government,â€� Probate Court Judge James Moore said. â€œIt helped me out with speaking skills in front of other people.â€�
â€œI was almost apathetic about politics,â€� City Court Judge Austin Sharp said. â€œIt shifted my views to moderate.â€�
â€œI learned how the process of government worked â€" how they pass laws and what goes into it,â€� City Councilman Joseph Moore said.
â€œIt made me realize I might want to pursue a career in politics,â€� City Councilman Pierce Walker said.
â€œI learned how to become a better person and grow,â€� City Councilman Chanse Adams said.
While Boys State may have only taken a week, the political lessons learned there may stick with these students for a lifetime.
Twelfth-grade students Jennifer Richardson and Nicole Jordan attended Girls State, the week-long city, county and state government education program for young women, at Georgia Southern University at the same time Boys State was convening (hence the aforementioned prank).
â€œBasically, the whole program was centered around the state government, how it works and patriotism,â€� Jordan said.
The program consisted of long days â€" 6:30 in the morning to 11 at night â€" and worked, again, like Boys State, in that halls were divided into cities that made up counties that made up the state.
Participants were also elected or appointed to positions. Richardson was appointed fire chief, while Jordan was appointed city deputy.
The Morgan County High School students agreed that they learned much about local government â€" the writing and presentation of bills, the benefits of sub-committees in addressing issues behind bills and voting procedures. Participants were also taught how to fold a flag and raise it properly. Moreover, the students learned responsibility, having to wake up on time and keep up with their room key.
Girls State also heard from speakers, including Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, a representative of the Police Department and a crisis counselor who happened to be â€œa friend of Nancy Grace,â€� the students said.
Both Richardson and Jordan agree that their favorite aspect of the program was its social nature.
â€œMy favorite part was meeting people,â€� Richardson said. â€œYou could just start conversations with people. Everyone was willing to talk to you.â€�
â€œWe made friends for a lifetime,â€� Jordan said.
Jordan and Richardson are looking forward to a Girls State reunion that is supposedly in the works for sometime before they graduate from high school.
â€œLeadership Unplugged: A CNN Experienceâ€�
Three Morgan County High School students were chosen to attend a week-long broadcast journalism camp at CNN in Atlanta.
While at the camp, the students â€" Trey Terrell and Kerleisha Jones, both in 12th grade, and Emily Malanowski, currently in 11th grade â€" were taught how the news is chosen and how to pitch an idea to producers. Further, participants were taught proper business etiquette, including professionalism and how to self promote.
They were also exposed to every aspect of the broadcast journalism process through meetings with employees in charge of the televised news, Web site and production as well as anchors, writers and cameramen. Further, the group met CNN anchors T.J. Holmes and Tony Harris.
While attending the camp, students stayed at Georgia Tech, where they experienced a taste of what college life is like.
When asked about their favorite part of the experience, the three Morgan County students had a variety of answers ready.
â€œI guess I learned how to promote myself in an effective way and about networking,â€� Jones said.
â€œBecause Iâ€™m thinking about broadcast journalism as a career, I want to know if itâ€™s something I want to go into,â€� Malanowski said. â€œA lot of people have to work together to produce a news program.â€�
â€œThe pretty girls,â€� Terrell said. â€œThe whole aspect of seeing what life is like for the anchors,â€� he continued, after a request for a â€œmore seriousâ€� answer from Malanowski.
The camp was filmed for the week and the Morgan County students report that there will be a small overview of the program on CNNâ€™s Web site.
â€œLook for us on CNN,â€� Terrell said.
(As an aside, Malanowski reported that the background used behind the anchors during some of the CNN live broadcasts is actually a workstation. â€œItâ€™s not fake,â€� Malanowski said.)
Governorâ€™s Honors Program
Twelfth-grade student Malin Dartnell chose to spend six weeks, the longest of all these summer education experiences, on the campus of Valdosta State University at the Governorâ€™s Honors Program (GHP).
With GHP, students choose a major and minor, similar to the college process, and spend their time on taking classes in those subject areas. The day begins at 8 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m., and participants take six different classes throughout their time in the program.
Dartnell chose to major in Social Studies and to minor in Theater. Her time in the Social Studies classes finished with an in-depth project on a subject of her choosing. Dartnellâ€™s project considered the Civil War in Sierra Leone.
â€œWe had to do a big, huge, culminating project using all primary sources,â€� Dartnell said. â€œI learned how to find and use the resources available.â€�
With her Theater minor, Dartnell learned about the playwriting process. Students had to write their own plays and, at the end of the six weeks, class members performed some of the plays. Students also took part in improv skits.
â€œI enjoyed performing more than writing,â€� Dartnell said.
After classes ended each day, students were given free time. Various activities â€" from watching the dance or music majors perform to hanging out with friends or taking in a movie â€" were available to students.
â€œI spent a lot of time sitting under the trees and talking,â€� Dartnell said.
Being the only student from Morgan County, Dartnell said that she gained self-confidence from the experience.
â€œI learned a lot more about myself,â€� Dartnell said.