The Chatham County Youth Commission is back home after visiting cities across the Northeast. The weary travelers left Savannah early last Sunday morning, went first to Washington, DC, then up to the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, on to the Big Apple, then back to DC and finally home yesterday.
The reason for the trip was to attend the National Association of Counties meeting. Commissioners from all over the country received our students like real commissioners. People from all over the country stopped to talk to our group and listen to their suggestions and answer their questions.
Not only are these students the only youth commission at the National Association of Counties in Washington, DC each year, Chatham County formed the very first youth commission in the country. These students are so popular, people stopped to talk to them before they even walked in the door.
"We are in the process now of trying to get together a program that others can follow, and yours is one of the models we have," said Jerry Griffin, executive director of the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia.
Then came the opening ceremony. The students had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear the attorney general and Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) speak in person. Afterward, Sen. McCain took some time to speak with them about the importance of their group.
"Because they are the future men and women and we need qualified men and women to serve, and I am pleased this group has come from Savannah, which is one of the most beautiful cities in America," he said.
Students attended the workshops, asking questions, learning about other counties and teaching people about our own commission. Then it was back to Capitol Hill to tell another very famous local politician all about their trip. They told Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA Dist. 1) about the National Association of Counties and asked him about many things, including their concern that the HOPE scholarship program remain intact.
"Youth commission is a great group for Chatham County and coastal Georgia," Rep. Kingston said, "because it teaches leadership skills to lots of our students."
To give you an idea about how popular our program has become, people in Canada have heard about us and now a group from Ontario wants to copy the youth commission.