South Carolina Students Selected for United States Senate Youth Program

Staff Report From South Carolina CEO

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman announced the names of the two students who have been selected as delegates to the 57th Annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) that will be held March 2–9, 2019, in Washington, D.C.

The delegates selected to represent South Carolina are Travis Johnson (Crestwood High School) and Ward Wilson (Socastee High School).

Travis Allen Johnson, son of Elaine and Derick Johnson of Lynchburg, South Carolina, is a Junior at Crestwood High School in the Sumter County School District. Travis currently serves as the South Carolina Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) State President and is the Junior Class President at Crestwood High School.

Rodney Edward "Ward" Wilson, son of Kelly and Rod Wilson of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is a Senior at Socastee High School in the Horry County School District. Ward currently serves as Student Body President at Socastee High School and is team captain of the Socastee Cross Country team.

"Travis and Ward should be commended for their outstanding performance during the rigorous and extremely competitive nomination process for the United States Senate Youth Program. They represent the very best of our students in South Carolina and I would like to congratulate these two young leaders for receiving this prestigious honor," said State Superintendent Molly Spearman.

The students chosen as alternate delegates to the 2019 USSYP program are Gavin Hunt (Ashley Ridge High School) and Connor Buckless (T.L. Hanna High School).

Gavin Daniel Hunt, son of Jane and Daniel Hunt of Summerville, South Carolina, is a Senior at Ashley Ridge High School in Dorchester School District Two. Gavin serves as the Senior Class Student Council Representative and is the team captain of the swim team at Ashley Ridge High School.

Connor Buckless, son of Andi and Bruce Buckless of Anderson, South Carolina, is a Junior at T.L. Hanna High School in Anderson School District Five. Connor is involved in the Beta Club and Student Council at T.L. Hanna High School.

Alternate delegates will be selected as replacements if a primary delegate is unable to participate in Washington Week. 

The USSYP was created by Senate Resolution 324 in 1962 and has been sponsored by the Senate and fully funded by the Hearst Foundation since its inception. The program was established to “to increase young Americans’ understanding of the interrelationships of the three branches of government, the caliber and responsibilities of federally elected and appointed officials, and the vital importance of democratic decision making not only for America, but for people around the world.”

Each year this extremely competitive merit-based program brings 104 of the most outstanding high school students—two from each state, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity—to Washington, D.C., for an intensive week-long study of the federal government. Student delegates will hear major policy addresses by senators, cabinet members, officials from the Departments of State and Defense and directors of other federal agencies, as well as participate in meetings with the president and a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. 

In addition to the student delegates attending Washington Week, the Hearst Foundation will provide each of the 104 student delegates with a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship with encouragement to continue their educational coursework in government, history and public affairs. Transportation and all expenses for Washington Week will be provided by the Hearst Foundation. No government funds are utilized.