High school interns get community insight

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Ian Gronau | August 13, 2014

WALWORTH -- Now in its fourth year, the Geneva Lake West Chamber of Commerce internship program has high hopes for its most recent batch of local students. The students, selected earlier this year, include Katheryn Vacula and Emily Splisgardt of Big Foot High School and Natalie Stratton of Williams Bay High School.

The program, which culminates in October, involves a rigorous course of in-the-field study that is intended to inform students about civic responsibility and the importance of community involvement.

“We are not trying to create the next village board president,” said Jacob Ries, the internship committee chairman. “Whether these students go on to college, tech school or right into the workforce, sooner or later they are going to be in a community and we want them to understand that communities run primarily on volunteerism. In the end we hope that the internship may encourage them to get excited about being a helpful and strong member of their communities.”

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The program requires participants to attend 10 meetings within the three Geneva Lake West communities, write a five-page paper outlining what they've learned from the meetings, spend five hours working in the GLWCC office and give three oral presentations about their experience. At the end of the program the interns will be awarded $500 for their participation.

Stratton, 16, already has attended a few meetings, including village board, school board and planning committee meetings. She is hoping that the experience will continue to cultivate her understanding of community involvement.

“I am hoping to gain an insight into the inner workings of my community,” Stratton said. “Even though the program only lasts a few months, I think that the interns definitely get an idea of just how much everyone needs to be involved in the community in order to get things done effectively and efficiently.

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