Hamilton High School students Elizabeth Schounard and Alexander Schultz participated Feb. 12-17 in the Senate Scholars Program, an intensive educational program offered by the Wisconsin State Senate. Schounard and Schultz were among 33 academically exceptional Wisconsin high school juniors and seniors chosen through a highly competitive admission process to get a hands-on, up-close view of the Legislature’s role in democracy.
Senate Scholars gain experience by working with senators, legislative staff and University of Wisconsin-Madison faculty in areas such as policy development, constituent relations and processing legislation. They attend floor debates, committee hearings, and seminars conducted by UW-Madison’s Robert M. LaFollette School of Public Affairs professors and other individuals involved in the legislative process.
In addition, Senate Scholars engage in mock legislative activities such as bill and amendment drafting, policy and fiscal analysis, constituent communications and lobbying. These activities culminate in a mock legislative hearing at which Senate Scholars provide and obtain testimony and hold an executive session to vote a bill out of committee.
Hamilton High School has sent students to the Senate Scholars Program for the past three years. Hamilton social studies teacher Eric Ebert said the program is valuable.
“The students who have gone in the past have really enjoyed the experience, as they have gotten to see government in action, working with members of the state Legislature, the Wisconsin Supreme Court, UW political science professors and different lobbying firms,” Ebert said. “It truly is a great program to help get your feet wet in state politics and network with members of the government and other students who share your interests.”
Students who apply must have letters of recommendation, take a state government aptitude test and work with their state senator to be approved for the weeklong program.