By Michael Eng | Managing Editor
This weekend, Plant City High School senior Morgan Moody will depart for a weeklong tour of Washington, D.C., as part of the annual Congressional Classroom event. Moody was selected by U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross to represent Plant City High School in the nation’s capital.
Amazingly, the tour will be Moody’s second brush with national politics since school began. Last week, Moody and 16 of her Plant City classmates participated in The Washington Center’s Campaign 2012 Academic Seminar Series, which took place during the Republican National Convention Aug. 28, at Hillsborough Community College’s Ybor City campus.
During the series, the Plant City students joined others from throughout the county to hear a panel discussion featuring former congressmen Phillip English (R-Pa.), Lawrence Smith (D-Fla.) and Peter Torkildsen (R-Mass.). The students also heard from journalists Josh Kraushaar, executive editor of National Journal Hotline; David Lightman, McClatchy Newspapers Congress and Election 2012 correspondent; and Ellen Ratner, Talk Radio News Service White House correspondent, regarding politics and the media. And Lucas Boyce, director of community relations, multicultural insights, cause marketing and government affairs for the Orlando Magic, delivered an inspirational address about leadership and overcoming obstacles.
Plant City High College and Career Counselor Sherrie Mueller, who organized her school’s representatives, said the seminar offered a unique perspective of government to some of her campus’ student leaders.
“We really chose the movers and shakers (to go),” Mueller said. “It was such a neat thing for the kids — and really well organized.”
Seniors Stephanie Taylor and William Hanks — both Republicans — said the seminar helped reinforce their own political beliefs.
“The panel had one Democrat, and it was interesting to hear that side, too,” Taylor said. “It gave us insight into the opposing viewpoint. (But ultimately), it reinforced my own beliefs.”
Hanks said he believes the economy is the most significant issue in this year’s presidential election. And although he has a steady job at Publix, he said he knows whoever wins the election in November will have a significant impact on his life when he graduates college in four years.
“We need to get this economy turned around,” he said. “It’ll just make it easier, career-wise.”
“The more the economy is boosted, the better everything will be,” said Taylor, who plans to attend the University of Florida to become an orthodontist. “When people have more money, they can spend it on things (such as) braces.”
Moody said her favorite part of the seminar was the panel of congressmen.
“It was so interesting to hear their viewpoints and how their experience in Congress was different than what it is today,” she said.
Moody said she is excited to learn even more about national politics during her trip to Washington.
“We’ll get to tour the FBI, the Library of Commerce, the Supreme Court,” she said. “I think it’s really going to open my eyes.”
Without the use of school buses, Mueller had to coordinate drivers to ferry the students into Tampa. Parents Cathy Adams, Laura Brummer and Stacy Rodriguez, and grandmother Ola Jean Hardee all volunteered to make the experience possible for the students.
Contact Michael Eng at email@example.com.
Sarah Winter SMO