LHS juniors intern for local and state politicians
December 4, 2022
Linganore student opens door to new government internships for highschool students
There are new opportunities opening up for high schoolers who want to get involved in government work. The positions once dominated by college students are now available to high school students, giving them first-hand experience in the work of county executives.
Zachary Davis, a junior at Linganore, approached Jamie Hendi, Linganore government teacher, for help when he first became interested in internship opportunities with the Frederick County government.
“We emailed county officials and got really lucky since Jan Gardner, the county executive, responded,” said Hendi. “Most executives didn’t want to take high schoolers, but Gardner took Zack in and gave him an opportunity.”
Davis explained his multiple reasons for pursuing an internship in Frederick County government: he was always interested in government and wanted to help the community.
“I’ve always developed an interest in government, and I wanted to take my opportunity to excel in it,” said Davis. He added that he also enjoyed the internship opportunity because he got paid fifteen dollars per hour and the hours were very flexible.
Davis’s internship entailed helping different people in the county government. For instance, he assisted Jan Gardener with her daily scheduling and event planning. As part of his position, Davis planned a COVID-19 memorial in Baker park near Hood College.
Davis’s opportunities extended beyond meeting and working with Gardner. He also worked with other executives and attended meetings with Senator Ben Cardin, who is involved with Maryland health care and environment. This allowed Davis to obtain first-hand experience in what Cardin did on the job.
Davis was not just there to observe; he wrote summaries of all the meetings he attended and spoke with the officials.
“I really learned how the county government works and [about] its municipalities. I learned skills like organizing, planning and writing speeches,” said Davis.
Davis highly recommends interning with local government to other high school students. He believes it offers the opportunity to really broaden one’s horizons and would be a great investment for a future career in government.
LHS Student participates in esteemed Democracy Summer Program
While most highschoolers may find politics uninteresting, other students find novel ways to participate. One of those students is Genevieve Ballatt, who participated in the Democracy Summer Program.
The Democracy Summer Program is a six-week internship opportunity from June 30 to July 31, perfect for students interested in local politics. The purpose of the program is to teach young people the skills needed to work with others, create campaigns and discuss different issues.
Jamie Raskin, current congressman of Maryland’s eighth district, founded the program which went nationwide in 2021. Ballatt was one of the students selected to learn from and work with Raskin.
The theme of Democracy Summer 2022’s curriculum was “Political Democracy and its Enemies.” There were readings and presentations about white supremacy and political democracy, the January 6 attacks, historic and contemporary struggles for voting rights, fascism and totalitarianism, and proposed changes to strengthen democratic process in the future.
Students got to listen to many great political minds online–due to Covid–and in-person overe the summer. None grabbed Ballat more than Abigail Spanberger, a congresswoman from Virginia, who she got to canvas for.
“I’m happy and thankful I had the opportunity to interact with her. It was inspirational to see a woman in congress,” said Ballatt.
Students this year had a lot more hands-on work in their internships. Raskin, along with the aforementioned Spanberger, had the interns help in their campaigns.
“Raskin was always super busy because of his upcoming bid for reelection, but we still got to interact with him a lot,” said Ballatt.
Students also got to interact with the likes of Elise Bryant and Michael Anderson when doing their twice-a-week lessons related to the core curriculum of the internship.
Alongside performing some electioneering activities and phone-banking, Ballatt got to participate in the 4th of July parade and enjoy some Ben and Jerry’s ice cream afterward.
“It was definitely a blast. I recommend anyone interested [in politics] definitely check it out … next summer,” said Ballatt.
Students who want to participate can look further into the requirements and activities on Raskin’s website. Though it is important to note that Raskin no longer represents parts of Frederick County and the Linganore school district, meaning students would more likely work with fellow Democrat David Trone instead.