Leadership program puts students to work

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By Jennifer Caldwell

    School is out.

And for some students that means trading in their desks for a lounge chair by the pool, but for others the break from the books will mark their first foray into the real world.

Thanks to the Campbell County Government Student Leadership Program, area high school students have the opportunity to learn the ropes in a number of the offices that make up county and city government.

According to Lonnie Vann, CCHS teacher and program coordinator, the summer internship program was first implemented in 1995 by then county mayor Tom Stiner.

This year 15 students, selected from a pool of around 30, are working in offices including circuit court clerk, Campbell County Sheriff’s Department, Jellico City Hall, LaFollette City Hall, the Campbell County Clerk and Master’s office, UT extension office, and the board of education.

The interns, who were required to secure the endorsement of a county commissioner before being considered for the program, are allowed to work 28 hours per week and are paid minimum wage.

“It (the program) gives students insight into how our local government works,” Vann explained.

While it is not unusual for high school students to be up in the air about the career path they will choose, Vann said in his 14 years with the program several students had moved into full time employment as a result of their internship assignment.

“Bobby’s (Vann) office currently has three employees who started out in the leadership program. A few years ago we had a guy in the clerk and master’s office who is now an attorney,” Vann said of the successes the program has seen.

In addition to helping students understand the workings of local government, Vann said the program will wrap up at the end of the summer with a trip to Nashville to learn more about state government as well.