Macon-Bibb County students got a visit from Secretary of State Brian Kemp this afternoon, Friday, February 16, 2018. High school students who are part of the Secretary of State Student Ambassadors program and the Macon-Bibb County GCAPS Youth Commission gained experience in Georgia civics, voting, and community leadership from one of Georgia’s high ranking officials.
Secretary Kemp gave students words of encouragement at the Board of Elections Office on Pio Nono Avenue. He began with his life story as a construction worker seeking to make a difference in public service. He was elected to the office of Secretary of State and has sought to make the Georgia government more efficient for businesses while providing integrity to the elections process. He began the Student Ambassadors Program based upon his personal observation of civic disconnection by his daughter. He thought if my child has no interest, imagine what other students across Georgia are feeling.
“The Student Ambassador Program has been a tremendous success because of hardworking students, faculty members, and community leaders who have dedicated their time and efforts into improving their neighborhoods and encouraging civic participation through voter registration,” says Secretary of State Brian Kemp. “We are really promoting our voter registration app in our schools. The students probably aren’t going to listen to me, so we need their peers to talk about it. That’s why we created the Student Ambassadors Program. I am very excited about this opportunity for students across Georgia to become more involved in voting and elections this year and for many years to come.”
The Secretary of State’s Student Ambassador Program is designed for 10th-12th grade students. Each school is allowed to nominate up to nine students to represent their school. In the fall, each group attends a regional Kick-Off event where they receive all the training and resources that they will need to be successful in the program. Over 700 students attended the October Kick-Off held in Macon coming from as far north as Griffin and as far south as Tifton, Georgia. They took what they learned back to their communities. Macon-Bibb County had eleven (11) local school groups comprising almost 80 students. The students decided as a team what their goals are for their school and the means of achieving them. Throughout the year, the teams organized and carried out various events from trainings to community service to election observations. For each event that they conduct, they receive points towards the statewide competition. The school with the most points at the end of the year is recognized at the State Capitol.
“(He told us) how he got to where he was and everything he does and like in the office and how small businesses to large corporations within Georgia just really revolves around that one office,” said student ambassador, Vannah Zawazki as she was interviewed by 41NBC/WMGT.
The Secretary of State’s Office has already partnered with over 150 high schools all across Georgia to provide Georgia’s high school students an opportunity to engage as leaders within their schools and communities. Through the program students gain leadership experience by engaging in Georgia civics, encouraging voter registration among their peers and volunteering within their communities.
The meeting was hosted by the Macon-Bibb County Board of Elections which is also the sponsor of the local Georgia Student Ambassador Programs. “Making the election process relevant for these students is the right thing to do,” says Mike Kaplan, Board of Election Chairman. “I am glad that we have such a fine group representing Macon-Bibb County.”
PARTICIPATING YOUTH GROUPS
- Academy for Classical Education
- Central High School
- First Presbyterian Day School
- Howard High School
- Mount De Sales Academy
- Northeast High School
- Rutland High School
- Southwest High School
- Stratford Academy
- Westside High School
- Macon-Bibb County Youth Commission
Press Release Credits
Georgia Secretary of State Student Ambassadors Program (http://sos.ga.gov/index.php/general/student_ambassador_program)
Edna Ruiz, 41NBC/WMGT News Reporter (https://www.41nbc.com/2018/02/16/secretary-state-visits-student-ambassadors-macon)
The Macon-Bibb County Youth Commission is a locally administered cohort of the Georgia Civic Awareness Program for Students (GCAPS) developed by the Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) staff and county officials to address the need for increased civic involvement and awareness among our state’s youth. The Bibb County Board of Commissioners established its program in 2012 with a $3,750 grant from ACCG. The 2014-2015 cohort was the first under the newly consolidated Macon-Bibb County government. We look forward to even more progress with the 2017-2018 cohort. To date, over 100 students have participated in the program. Youth gain knowledge about their local governments through hands-on learning experiences and witness firsthand the decision making process. The objective of GCAPS is simple: to educate young citizens about the importance of being actively conscious of their local government environment and the opportunities available in the public sector. GCAPS provides civic education by exposing high school students to the role that local government plays and by introducing them to the leaders who make local governments work. As a result of GCAPS, youth become engaged in their communities and become better informed citizens, they also learn valuable leadership skills and have the opportunity to create and implement civic awareness projects. Macon-Bibb County’s cohort is administered by Assistant County Manager Charles Coney with Commissioner Bert Bivins as its Ambassador.