The youths would follow legislators to gain knowledge of the political process.

AUGUSTA – Sen. Peggy Rotundo (D-Androscoggin County) of Lewiston and Sen. Neria Douglass (D-Androscoggin County) of Auburn are inviting area students to submit applications for the Maine State Senate Shadow Program. The program is to gain input from high school students on possible reforms to the legislative process.

Applications are due by March 15.

“I’m looking forward to hearing from students and working with them here at the legislature,” said Rotundo. “Young people have a refreshing outlook on issues we face and can often create constructive solutions to the challenges we face in the legislature.”

“Shadowing is a great way of taking the mystery out of how government and our legislative process works. After all, these students will someday be our next leaders,” said Douglass.

The program is open to high school juniors and seniors currently living in Auburn, Durham, Lewiston and Poland. To be considered, students must obtain a teacher recommendation and submit a brief essay identifying what they perceive to be the most pressing problems facing the Maine State Legislature. Students should contact their high school principals, who will be receiving the application information shortly, or the Senate Majority Office in Augusta at 287-1515.

Students will spend a day in Augusta, “shadowing” Rotundo or Douglass in the Senate chamber, committee rooms, working meetings, acting in all capacities with the exception of voting, as though they were senators.

Following their visit, students will write a brief essay outlining what they see as possible solutions to the problems they initially identified in their application essay. Their solutions should draw from their experiences in Augusta. The essays will be shared with the legislative leadership within both houses of the Maine Legislature.

“One of the most important aspects of our duties as elected officials is to connect young people to their government. In my four years here at the State House, I have been proud to welcome countless students visiting us here in Augusta, and I have happily visited over 700 students in classrooms throughout my district – the shadow program is one more step in ensure a strong bond between Maine’s youth and their government,” said Rotundo.

Sen. Rotundo and Sen. Douglass will announce the name of the Shadow Senators shortly after the March 15 deadline for applications.

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