Two Jefferson students will represent Va. at the U.S. Senate Program


Carol M Highsmith

This program opens up opportunities for students to experience first hand what the government does on a day to day basis. “I definitely hope that future years of TJ students will give this program and many other programs that focus on government and politics more of a listen,” Reaser said.

Ivadette Haziri, Staff Writer

Taking part in a week-long U.S. senate program, two high school juniors and seniors from each state are selected annually to dive deeper into learning about the Senate, receive $10,000 worth of scholarships, and have an opportunity to hear real-time speeches from key political figures. On top of this, students will get one-on-one time to converse with U.S. Senators, as well as an extensive question and answer session, where current events and issues will be discussed.

This year’s program will see Jefferson students, junior Jessica Ye and senior Liam Reaser, representing both of the Va. student delegates.

While both candidates were interested in participating in the program, they both had different motives. 

“One of the main things that drew me to the program is interacting with not only federal officials as part of the program, but also getting the opportunity to work with other youth around the country. I’m excited to learn more about their past work and what they’ve learned – and learn more from them,” Ye said. 

Another benefit is that this program allows students to learn about our influential leaders and put themselves in their shoes for a week. 

“Something that I’ve really been interested in learning about is what our nation’s leaders are doing on a day to day basis,” Reaser said, “The amount of things that we see them doing is a very small percentage of how they’re actually spending their entire day.”

To provide the student delegates information from people that have first-hand experience, part of the week-long program includes a discussion about policies of whom speakers include President Joe Biden, senators, cabinet members, officials from the Department of State and Defense, and a justice of the United States Supreme Court.

“I’m interested in hearing from a Supreme Court justice because that’s a very unique thing for high schoolers,” Reaser said.

Ye is not only excited to hear from the justice, but other speakers as well.

“I’m excited to hear from the President but also to talk with senators,” Ye said, “I’ve met sen. Tim Kaine, before but I’m excited to meet and talk with other senators ”

Because of all of the highly qualified students at Jefferson, it was only natural that getting accepted into this program was not expected.

“It was definitely surprising. I came home from dance, saw the email, and was very, very surprised,” Ye said.

To first even be considered for the program, Ye and Reaser had to be nominated, and then follow through by creating a video or writing an essay on a certain political topic.

“I did a video on the way that two-party politics and social media interact with one another,” Reaser said, “If you have one political party in an authoritarian state, the way that social media is used by the government is very different – social media becomes a lot more like a state-run newspaper or a TV station than the more disjointed social media environment.”

While Jefferson is usually thought of as purely a science and tech-oriented school, both delegates representing us at a program centered around government and politics goes to show the strength of Jefferson’s humanities program 

“[Working with Reaser] really exciting, especially since we have to work together a lot as delegates,” Ye said. “Two delegates coming from TJ, which is a STEM school. It’s not really known for humanities, and I think it’s cool we get to showcase that.”