Delaware Students Selected For United States Senate Youth Program

Students Headed to Washington and to Receive $5000 Scholarship

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) last week announced the names of the two Delaware students who have been selected as delegates to the 47th annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) that will be held March 7 – 14, 2009 in Washington, D.C. Peter Andrews of Wilmington and Lauren Bleakney of Wilmington were chosen from hundreds of applicants to be part of the group of 104 student delegates who will attend the program’s 47th annual Washington Week.

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. Originally proposed by Senators Kuchel, Mansfield, Dirksen and Humphrey, the impetus for the program as stated in Senate testimony was “to increase young Americans’ understanding of the interrelationships of the three branches of government, the caliber and responsibilities of federally elected and appointed officials, and the vital importance of democratic decision making not only for America but for people around the world.” 

Each year this extremely 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 week-long study of the federal government and the people who lead it. 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. In addition to the program week, the foundation grants each of the 104 student delegates a $5,000 college scholarship with encouragement to continue coursework in government, history and public affairs. Transportation and all expenses for Washington Week are provided by the foundation, as stipulated in S.Res.324; no government funds are utilized.

Peter Andrews is Parliamentarian at Mount Pleasant High School. He served as Executive Chair of Relay for Life, Walk Team Captain of Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, National Reporter for the Technology Student Association, President of the World Affairs Club, and as a member of the Tri-M Music Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, soccer team, Math League, and Academic Bowl. Peter plans to follow a career in law, politics/public service.

Lauren Bleakney is a Senior Council Member at Charter School of Wilmington. Lauren served as a counselor at the Delaware Nature Society, and volunteers at her community dance studio, Latin American Community Center and Emmanuel Dining Hall. Her extra-curricular activities include Co-Preisdent of the Canon Envirothon Team, Director and General Manager of the Drama Club, Senior Council, Vice President of the French Club and as a member of the Model United Nations. Lauren plans to attend Georgetown University or Yale University. She would like to become a diplomat and/or lawyer.

Chosen as alternates to the 2009 program were Julie Hughes, a resident of Millsboro, who attends Sussex Central High School and Matthew Marshall, a resident of Wilmington, who attends Cab Calloway School of the Arts.

The chief educational officer in each state selects the delegates after nomination by teachers and principals. This year’s delegates were designated by Ms. Valerie Woodruff, Secretary of Education.

While in Washington the student delegates will attend meetings and briefings with Senate leadership, other Senators and Congressional staff; the President, a Justice of the Supreme Court, leaders of cabinet agencies, an Ambassador to the United States and top members of the national media. The students will also tour many of the national monuments and several museums and they will stay at the historic Mayflower hotel in downtown Washington, D.C.

In addition to outstanding leadership abilities and a strong commitment to public service, this year’s students rank academically in the top one percent of their states. They continue to excel and develop impressive qualities that are often directed toward public service. Among the many distinguished former program delegates are Senator Susan Collins of Maine, the first program delegate elected to the Senate; Chief Judge Robert Henry, U.S. Court of Appeals; former Ambassador to West Germany Richard Burt; former Presidential Advisors Thomas "Mack" McLarty and Karl Rove. Additional distinguished alumni are former Lt. Governor of Idaho David LeRoy, U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Christopher Christie, military officers, Foreign Service Officers, members of State Legislatures, top Congressional staff, healthcare providers and university educators.

Members of the USSYP 2009 47th Annual Senate Advisory Committee are: Co-Chairs — Sens. Tom Carper of Delaware and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Advisory Committee — Sens. Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Ron Wyden of Oregon, John Barrasso of Wyoming, John B. Ensign of Nevada, Richard G. Lugar of Indiana and Mel Martinez of Florida. Each year, the Honorary Co-Chairs of the program are the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders and the Vice President of the United States.