Optimistic Students and the World of Government

Avondale High School Students Gain Insight into the World of Government

Six students from Avondale High School visited the Auburn Hills Morning Optimist Club to share their experiences attending Boys State and Girls State and to thank the Club for sponsoring their participation in the mock-government camps held every summer on college campuses across the nation. The Club, in partnership with the Auburn Hills American Legion, has been sending Avondale High School students to the week-long camps for several years. The camps are designed to educate young adults about government and governmental process as well as inspire active citizenship. This year, five students, Shelby Arnold, Amanda Crawford, Riya Gupta, Jordan Lockhart, and Sydney Withers traveled to East Lansing to the Michigan State University campus to attend Girls State. One student, Drew Gordon made the trip to Northwood University in Midland to attend Boys State.

2016 Avondale High School Boys State and Girls State attendees (l to r): Drew Gordon, Sydney Withers, Shelby Arnold, Jordan Lockhart, Riya Gupta, and Amanda Crawford

2016 Avondale High School Boys State and Girls State attendees (l to r): Drew Gordon, Sydney Withers, Shelby Arnold, Jordan Lockhart, Riya Gupta, and Amanda Crawford

The students shared a variety of anecdotes, pictures and insights about the camp but their common theme seemed to be that Boys State and Girls State were so much more and so much better than they expected or imagined. Initially senior Shelby Arnold didn’t feel that Girls State was going to be a good fit for her but relented to go to the camp after discussions with her mother. “I really didn’t want to go,” she told the Optimist Club members, “but it turned out to be an amazing week. I met a lot of people, I learned my job as a citizen, and I learned how to stand up for what I believe in.”

Likewise, Drew Gordon had reservations about going too. “I thought it was going to be boring but it wasn’t boring at all,” he said, adding that during the week he developed relationships with all different kinds of people from all over Michigan, “we really bonded and will continue to stay in touch.”

Each student’s remarks carried the message that the camps were about building relationships. “Relationship building was a big part of the week,” said Riya Gupta, “not just because we had the chance to meet and connect and make friends from around the state but also because we learned that governing is about relationships.” Riya noted that most of the exercises and activities in the mock government required the students to communicate, collaborate and compromise. “Relationships were key during those times,” she said. Riya also shared that throughout the week she became aware of the difficult job of our real-world leaders to represent all points of view, “during Girls State campaigning, voting and the elections there were so many voices and perspectives – people passionate about their point of view. It must be hard for our leaders to balance all of those opinions,” added Riya.

About the Auburn Hills Morning Optimist Club

In addition to sponsoring Avondale High School students at Boys State and Girls State, the Auburn Hills Morning Optimist Club also supports Avondale students by providing funds for the Annual Oratorical Contest, AYA Back to School Shopping, AYA Christmas Shopping, AYA Youth Recognition Night, Blessings in a Back Pack, the Avondale Academy Prom, Avondale High School All-State Student Athlete Plaques, Avondale SKILL Program and many other programs and events enriching the experiences of Avondale School District students. The Club meets every Thursday morning from 7:30 – 8:30 at the Matilda R. Wilson Boys and Girls Club at 220 S. Squirrel Road, Auburn Hills, 48326 – everyone is invited to attend.



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