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Thayer FCCLA students visit state officials for a day

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Two Thayer High School Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) students, Jade Underwood and Leslie Caldwell joined more than 70 other FCCLA students from across the state Feb. 25 for a two day trip to Jefferson City to look at a day-in-the-life of a state official.

Thayer High School FCCLA sponsor Shelley Underwood said she submitted both students names for the event and they were selected.

"The Missouri FCCLA Legislative Shadowing Project pairs juniors and seniors with state representatives, senators and other officials to observe their meetings, hearings and public duties," Underwood said. She accompanied both students to the state capital.

The Legislative Shadowing Project, now in its ninth year, is conducted by the Missouri Family Career and Community Leaders of America, the student organization for family and consumer science education.

"Shadowing allows students to connect their interest in law and the political process with their education. Hopefully, by the end of the day, the students will develop a better understanding of the political process and how important it is to citizens," Underwood said.

FCCLA attempts to match students with officials from their district.

Jade is a senior at Thayer and serves as the FCCLA president. She is also the FCCLA state vice president. She was paired with State Rep. Mike Dethrow from Oregon County.

"I am sort of interested in politics. I followed Rep. Dethrow around and attended a budget meeting with him. He was very nice and explained to me what was going on," she said.

She was taught what the house of representatives members do and what goes on at the state capital. "The experience in Jefferson City would give any student that would be interested in pursing a political career some good ideas," she said.

This is not Jade's first experience with politics. Last October, because of her state FCCLA position, she had the opportunity to attend the FCCLA USA Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C.

"We went to Washington for four days. We went to the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Memorial. Ten people from Missouri applied and four of us got to go," Jade said.

She also had the opportunity to visit the Supreme Court Building, visited with an aide for Sen. Claire McCaskill and saw the offices of then Sen. Obama and Sen. McCain. "It was pretty exciting because it was right before the presidential election," Jade said.

Jade is the daughter of Jim and Shelley Underwood.

Leslie is a junior at Thayer High School. She spent most of her time with an aide of State Sen. Chuck Purgason. She is secretary of the Thayer FCCLA and next year will take over the position of state FCCLA vice president.

"I really enjoyed it. It was my first trip to the state capital. One of the speakers during our trip said Missouri's capital was the most like the capital in Washington D.C. than any other state," Leslie said.

She attended several meetings and went on tours of the capital. "I learned how getting a bill passed goes through the house and senate," she said.

Leslie thinks her experience in Jefferson City would be good for anyone interested in going into politics. "I learned a lot that I didn't understand before," Leslie said.

Leslie will probably enter the field of healthcare service when she gets out of college, she said.

Leslie is the daughter of Stanley and Regina Caldwell.

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