For Immediate Release
January 24, 2013

Two Illinois High School Students Selected for U.S. Senate Youth Program

Delegates will travel to D.C. and receive $5,000 scholarship

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Education joins U.S. Sen. Richard J. Durbin and U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk in congratulating the two Illinois high school students selected as delegates to the 51st annual U.S. Senate Youth Program. Thomas Clark of Oswego and Anais Carell of Clarendon Hills were selected from applicants across Illinois to receive a scholarship and to represent our state for a weeklong educational visit to Washington, D.C., in March.

“Congratulations to Thomas and Anais who were selected from many amazing students who applied from across the state. Their families and teachers should be quite proud of their achievement,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “This prestigious program gives students an amazing opportunity to see our democratic process up close to build their knowledge of our political system and instill a lifelong commitment to public service.”

The U.S. Senate Youth Program was created in 1962. The Hearst Foundations fund the program and provide each of the 104 student delegates with a $5,000 undergraduate college scholarship and encourages them to continue coursework in government, history and public affairs. Each year, the competitive, merit-based program brings 104 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 weeklong study of the federal government.

Thomas “TJ” Clark attends Oswego High School and serves as president of the Oswego Chapter of Youth and Government. TJ has served in various leadership positions since elementary school. He represents his school on the Illinois House Minority Leader’s Youth Council and serves on the Senior Class Executive Council. He attended the LeadAmerica Conference, interned for the Illinois House Republicans and has worked on numerous local and state campaigns.

Anais Carell attends Hinsdale Central High School and serves as student representative to the Downers Grove Township Democratic Organization. Anais titled her application essay “A Call to Action.” This title accurately reflects Anais’ passion for action and involvement. She has volunteered for political campaigns since 2008. She writes “Battleground,” a political column for the school newspaper and is active on the school’s speech team. At school, she co-founded the Young Progressive Club and works to encourage youth participation in the democratic system.

While in Washington March 9-16, the student delegates will attend meetings and briefings with senators and Congressional staff, the president of the United States, a justice of the Supreme Court, leaders of cabinet agencies, an ambassador to the United States and members of the national media.

Thomas Justison of Hillsboro High School and Wyatt Bensken, a resident of Champaign who attends the University of Illinois Laboratory High School, were chosen for the 2013 program.

Chief education officers in each state select the delegates after nomination by teachers and principals. Koch, who was first appointed to serve as State Superintendent of Education in 2006 and has been with the Illinois State Board of Education since 1994, chose this year’s state delegates.

Among the many distinguished former program delegates are U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the first program delegate elected to the Senate; U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner of Colorado, the first former delegate elected to the House; New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie; former Chief Judge Robert Henry, U.S. Court of Appeals; former Ambassador to West Germany Richard Burt; and former presidential Advisers Thomas "Mack" McLarty and Karl Rove.


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