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Maine’s Positive Story of the Day ~ Hampden Academy and Caribou High School~

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) is pleased to announce that Claire Ouellette, a student at Caribou High School, in Caribou, and Ryan Hafener, a student at Hampden Academy, in Hampden, were both selected for the United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP). They will each be attending USSYP’s Washington Week in Washington, D.C. during the first week of March where they will meet with the Senate leaders and the Senate parliamentarian and historian; a justice of the Supreme Court, the President, officials from the Departments of State and Defense and other executive agencies, a foreign ambassador to the U.S. and senior members of the media. They are also each awarded a $10,000 scholarship to any undergraduate institution of their choosing.

The United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) provides a yearly opportunity for two students from each state, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity, to gain an in-depth view of the United States Senate and the federal government as well as a deeper understanding of the interrelationship of the legislative, judicial, and executive branches. The overall mission of the program is to help instill within each class of USSYP student delegates more profound knowledge of the American political process and a lifelong commitment to public service.

The selection process for this prestigious award is rigorous and competitive and began when teachers and principals nominated qualified students this past fall. Once nominated, students had to complete an application and write an essay on a significant issue they would like the U.S. Congress to consider.

Based on the quality of their essay, ten students were selected as finalists. Those 10 students came to The Margaret Chase Smith library in Skowhegan where they were interviewed by a distinguished panel of judges including Chuck Mahaleris, Constituent Services Representative for Senator Susan Collins; and Ben Tucker, Regional Representative for Senator Angus S. King, Jr. Additionally, they were asked to write and deliver a four-minute senate simulation speech. At the end of the day, both Claire and Ryan rose to the top.


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