Students walk up Capitol steps

Sophomores Agatha Fenech and Lauren Hayes and juniors Hannah Ackernman and Jacob Pence were selected to participate in the Capitol Project, which will take place Feb. 18-21 in Des Moines. They are four of 20 students across the state that have received this honor. All submitted applications that were reviewed by a committee, before becoming eligible to participate. The applications consisted of a teacher recommendation, a brief biological sketch and why each was interested in participating.

Hayes first heard about the opportunity from fourth hour announcements, and after this, her parents received an email with more information. “I decided to look into it and found it to be something I’d like to be a part of,” Hayes said.

Hayes has always been very interested in government. “My grandpa was a mayor of a small town, so I’ve always been around politics. I figured this was a good opportunity to learn the ins and outs of all of it,” Hayes said. Fenech aspires to go into politics in the future, so this experience will give her an up close look. “I love going to leadership conferences, and they emphasized in the information about the Capitol Project that leadership would be tied into a lot of the activities, so that is another reason it interested me,” Fenech said.

They are both very excited for all of the activities they will get to do and the things they will learn. “We will be doing a lot of different things such as learning about lobbying, discussing important current issues, learning how to draft a bill and learning more in depth about the legislative process,” Hayes said. Specifically the girls will pick a cause/issue with their state senator/representative (or other state official if they are not available) and draft a mock bill, finalize it, have a mock floor debate and a mock bill signing ceremony. They will also have other opportunities, such as learning about being a page and going on a tour of terrace hill and the Capitol. “I think this will definitely benefit my knowledge of the legislative process as well as (in general) government. It will be a fun learning experience,” Fenech said.

Hayes’ fascination with government makes her a good candidate. “I think I’m qualified because I find the processes of the government fascinating. Like I said, I’ve been surrounded by government and politics for as long as I can remember, and recently, it’s become interesting. I feel like I know a decent amount about what is going on, but I’m very excited to learn more,” Hayes said.

Both girls will be meeting Secretary of State Matt Schultz, Governor Terry Branstad and Lt Governor Kim Reynolds, along with many other people.

Hayes anticipates learning a lot from these politicians. “I’m excited to go to learn more about how our state and even country operates. I hope this will help me when I decide on my career path too,” Hayes said.

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