Youth Leadership Atmore visits Montgomery
Arthur McLean Editor
A group of Atmore students received an education and some meetings few people in this state ever receive.
The members of Youth Leadership Atmore, juniors from the area's high schools traveled to Montgomery for Government Day.
The day started with a two-hour bus trip to the capitol city leaving Atmore at 6 a.m.
Once there, the students were treated to meetings with the state's top five officers, many of them making time to chat with the students and answer their questions.
Lt. Governor Lucy Baxley, Attorney General Troy King, State Treasurer Kay Ivey and Secretary of State Nancy Worley all spent time talking to the students, explaining their roles and duties and answering questions.
Each one spent about 30 minutes talking to the students. Baxley, Ivey and Worley all made it a point to tell the students that not all politicians were bad, and how important it was to vote.
"Most of the people in politics are in it because they are really interested in public service," Baxley said. "We have a big responsibility to give back to the community. It's everyone's responsibility. I encourage you to think about that, to think about giving back."
King reminded the students that as taxpayers, all the impressive buildings built to house state government really belonged to the taxpayers. ""All of this belongs to you. I want better opportunities for my son, that is why I got into government, and I challenge you to get involved as well," King said.
The students also received an impromptu talk from one of Atmore's own, Danny McKinley, who is the former police chief of Atmore and now serves as the law enforcement coordinator for the Attorney General's office.
Youth Leadership Atmore also received a special photo opportunity with Governor Bob Riley. The students gathered in Riley's formal office, shook hands with the governor and hat their picture taken with him.
"The Governor receives about 75 requests for personal appearances and meetings every day," said Nick Smith a member of the Atmore Chamber of Commerce and the trip's organizer. "We were the only one his office granted today. He's very busy and we certainly appreciate what he did for us."
The students also received a special tour of the state's historic capital building, it's modern judicial building and watched debate above the floor of the House of Representatives.
The members of Youth Leadership Atmore said they enjoyed the trip and felt it was a unique opportunity.
"It was a good trip," said ECHS junior Kiara McGinnis. "I learned a lot today, and got to meet people and ask questions I never thought I'd get to do."
Wynne Channell, a junior at Escambia Academy said she also enjoyed the trip, but she was concerned after viewing the action on the house floor. "It didn't seem like anyone was paying attention," she said.
Smith, a member of the adult Leadership Atmore classes said this was the eighth trip he's organized for Youth Leadership Atmore. "I want them to come away from this feeling like they've meet some very good people leading the state and that they enjoy sharing their office with the kids," Smith said.
"My hope is that they will gain an appreciation for what they (elected officials) do, and stimulate the kids to follow in their footsteps."
Youth Leadership Atmore is a product of the adult classes of Leadership Atmore, sponsored by the Atmore Chamber of Commerce. The program is funded through grants and local support. More information about the program follows in a separate story in this issue.