Local students go to D.C.

Published 1:40 am Wednesday, July 20, 2016

PowerSouth Youth Tour winners Cynreca McKinney, Garian Ware, J.C. Adams and Rachel Dayton tour Arlington Cemetery and June 12.

PowerSouth Youth Tour winners Cynreca McKinney, Garian Ware, J.C. Adams and Rachel Dayton tour Arlington Cemetery and June 12.

PowerSouth joined electric cooperatives across the U.S. to send high school students to Washington, D.C., June 10-16 for the 2016 Rural Electric Cooperative Youth Tour.

Four area students – Rachel Dayton from Andalusia High School, J.C. Adams from Opp High School, Garian Ware from Elba High School ,and Cyndreca McKinney from Pike County High School – were selected as PowerSouth’s 2016 Youth Tour winners. They received an all-expense paid trip to Washington for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Youth Tour.

“The opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., and see first-hand, history being made is the trip of a lifetime,” said PowerSouth Communications Support Services Coordinator Wanda Woods. “Youth Tour gives students a chance to walk in the footsteps of our forefathers and experience sights and sounds that can only be found in our nation’s capital.”

While in D.C., Alabama’s Youth Tour delegation visited monuments and memorials. They also spent time on Capitol Hill, meeting with Representative Martha Roby.

Adams and Dayton even participated in a ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery. The two were selected as Youth Leadership Council finalists to represent Alabama.

“It took me a minute to truly grasp the sanctity of the moment,” Adams said of his experience placing the wreath. “More so than I had known before Youth Tour, nobody deserves my utmost respect like veterans. Their sacrifices are the reason I’m free.”

“It was an honor to be selected, and I’ll cherish that day forever,” Dayton said. “Walking past headstone after headstone, seeing all the people who made the ultimate sacrifice for me and every other citizen in our nation, weighed on me like nothing else has. It has made me thankful for my family members who are still with me and for the freedom I take for granted every single day. I’ve learned to be thankful for those who have protected my rights, and I’ve gained more respect for those who work in politics and deal with legislation.”

The Youth Tour experience provides students with a chance to see history come to life, engage in leadership training and connect with 1,700 other student leaders from across the country.

“Going on the Youth Tour was one of the best opportunities I have ever been given,” Ware said. “I learned that there is so much more to life than we know, so much more than cell phones, friends and social media – so much more the world has to offer my generation. I learned the importance of appreciating everything in my life better than what I already do. Youth Tour is the opportunity of a lifetime, a life-changing experience.”

The four students were chosen based on their performance on written essays, written tests and an interview competition.

PowerSouth has participated in the Youth Tour program for more than 30 years, sponsoring students from Andalusia, Elba, Opp and Pike County high schools.

Youth Tour is just one way PowerSouth invests in communities across Alabama and northwest Florida. Electric cooperatives do more than provide safe, reliable and affordable power — they are also dedicated to empowering the nation’s future leaders.

“I learned a lot on Youth Tour,” McKinney said. “One thing I learned is what Iwo Jima is. I never knew anything about it until Youth Tour. My favorite part of Youth Tour was meeting people from different states and having a great time together.”