MADISON — In a few days Madison Memorial High School student Kristin Bishop will travel to Washington, D.C., to represent her school, community and state at a national conference on responsible citizenship and government.

Bishop, 17, is one of only two girls from Maine, and the first from Madison Memorial High School, to be selected for the trip, which is sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary as part of its Girls Nation program. Two girls from each state are selected annually to participate in the program, which runs from July 20 to July 27, and where high school juniors meet for a week to learn about national government.

“I’m beyond excited. Civic engagement is very important to me and so is my community. I’ve always wanted to help people,” said Bishop, a bubbly teenager with long brown hair.

During the week-long program, students run for political office and campaign for the passage of legislation. Bishop, who will be representing Maine along with Sophie Warren from Scarborough, said the two have written a bill on cyber safety, specifically forbidding cyber harassment and stalking in each state and holding violators accountable. The bill will be voted on by the student senators at the conference.

It will be her first trip to the nation’s capital, and Bishop said she hopes to broaden her knowledge of the legislative process in order to help her in the AP government class she plans to take next year and to develop her enthusiasm about government in hopes of sharing it with other students.

She said that history and government have always been her favorite subjects in school, dating back to fourth grade, when she decided she wanted to be a government lawyer.

“It definitely alarmed my parents because it wasn’t a typical answer for a fourth-grader,” said Bishop.

Her mother, Vanessa Bishop, said that her daughter’s passion for government and civic affairs has grown over the years and that in addition to the support of her family, the teachers at Madison Memorial High School have been instrumental in that development.

“Kristin initiates a lot on her own, but she has also been lucky to have had several teachers that have recognized her talents and supported her achievements,” said Vanessa Bishop.

Kara Atwood, who has been Bishop’s history teacher for the past two years, said that in her 10 years of teaching at the high school she has never met a more motivated student.

She also said that Bishop’s friendliness and support for her peers have helped her to succeed. She has been class president for the last three years.

“She goes above and beyond herself for her class. She makes fun of herself because she’s not an athlete, but she’s always at games supporting the teams,” said Atwood.

Now a rising senior, Bishop is a student representative on the Maine State Board of Education as well as the town of Madison’s Solid Waste and Recycling Advisory Committee.

As a freshman in 2010 she participated in a student run forum for gubernatorial candidates where she got the chance to ask a question to candidates, including current Gov. Paul LePage. Her question was about what Maine people value and how the candidates’ fiscal views could ensure Maine people are getting what they value. The forum was one of the things that Bishop said sparked her interest in state government.

The American Legion Girls State program, which leads up to Girls Nation every summer, is also known as Dirigo, Maine’s motto, which is Latin for “I lead.” In June, 230 girls from across the state, including Bishop, met for Girls State conference at Husson University in Bangor.

Among them Bishop and Warren were chosen to travel to Washington, where in addition to presenting their legislation on cyber safety, they will meet with President Barack Obama, tour the White House, meet with state legislators and representatives and tour Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon and the capitol building, said Bishop.

As she prepares to head off to college, Bishop said she plans to study constitutional law, but isn’t sure yet where she will be applying.

“She’s someone I’m going to remember. I can’t wait to see what she’s going to do,” said Atwood.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368
[email protected].com

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