Justin Deal of Dalton and Meredith McCain of Johns Creek were chosen from across the state to be part of the group of 104 student delegates who will attend the program’s 54th annual Washington Week.
Chosen as alternates to the 2016 program were Lorna Chitty, a resident of Valdosta, who attends Valdosta High and Sarah Malik, a resident of Martinez, who attends Augusta Preparatory Day School.
The USSYP was created by Senate Resolution 324 in 1962 and has been sponsored by the Senate and fully funded by The Hearst Foundations since inception. Originally proposed by Senators Kuchel, Mansfield, Dirksen and Humphrey, the impetus for the program as stated in Senate testimony is “to increase young Americans’ understanding of the interrelationships of the three branches of government, learn the caliber and responsibilities of federally elected and appointed officials, and emphasize the vital importance of democratic decision making not only for America but for people around the world.”
Each year this extremely competitive merit-based program brings 104 of the most 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 week-long study of the federal government and the people who lead it. The overall mission of the program is to help instill within each class of USSYP student delegates more profound knowledge of the American political process and a lifelong commitment to public service. In addition to the program week, The Hearst Foundations provide each student with a $5,000 undergraduate college scholarship with encouragement to continue coursework in government, history and public affairs. Transportation and all expenses for Washington Week are also provided by The Hearst Foundations; as stipulated in S.Res.324; no government funds are utilized.
The chief educational officer in each state selects the delegates after nomination by teachers and principals. This year’s delegates were designated by Mr. Richard Woods, Georgia's School Superintendent.
While in Washington the student delegates attend meetings and briefings with Senators, House Representatives and Congressional staff, the President, a Justice of the Supreme Court, leaders of cabinet agencies, an Ambassador to the United States and senior members of the national media. The students will also tour many of the national monuments and several museums and they will stay at the historic Mayflower Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C.
In addition to exceptional leadership abilities and a strong commitment to volunteer work, the student delegates generally rank academically in the top one percent of their states among high school juniors and seniors. Members of the USSYP 2016 54th annual Senate Advisory Committee are: Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, Republican Co-Chair; Senator Mazie K. Hirono of Hawaii, Democratic CoChair; Senate Advisory Members: Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Michael B. Enzi (RWY), David Perdue (R-GA), Tim Scott (R-SC), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Robert P. Casey (D-PA), Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT). Each year, the Honorary Co-Chairs of the program are the Vice President of the United States and the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders.