MAYVILLE - Three seniors at Chautauqua Lake Central School brought new leadership skills and interests back to school this fall, after attending Boys' and Girls' State leadership programs last summer.
Jeremy Lesniowski and Sam Snyder attended the 76th annual Boys' State at Morrisville State College in Morrisville, N.Y., and Hannah Rauh represented Chautauqua Lake at Girls' State on the SUNY Brockport campus. Their participation was sponsored by the William L. Travis American Legion Post 493.
"With every right comes a responsibility," Hannah Rauh, daughter of Megan and John Rauh of Ashville, said.
These words were spoken by one of the inspirational speakers at Girls' State, who expressed the importance of every individual's role in government.
Creating an "imaginary 51st state" helped further the girls' understanding of government and politics. In the mock state, Hannah Rauh was elected to be a Senator and to serve on the criminal justice committee.
"We split into several committees and created bills to present to the Senate and Assembly," Rauh said. "Also, throughout the week we had the privilege to listen to guest speakers. I thought it was really interesting to hear the stories of powerful women who were in my shoes years ago."
Lesniowski found it "interesting and refreshing" that Boys' State offered programs like a yearbook team, a website crew and a press corps, as well as the video editing program where he worked.
While at Boys' State, Lesniowski, son of Sheila Lesniowski of Ashville, tried to observe as many political rallies as possible.
"It was really amazing just to watch my fellow Boys' Staters work independently and do what they did best - lead," he said. "The best way to describe Boys' State is as a micro-community. I assembled in a group of roughly 50 boys, which became my town. We worked together as a tight unit, almost like a family. We looked out for each other, much like a real town would."
Jeremy Lesniowski described his town working together with other towns and counties to form a state.
"The most interesting part was that we didn't just function as a legislative body of representatives, but as actual members of a town, just like neighbors who live together and help each other in any way possible," he said.
For Lesniowski, the best part of the Boys' State experience was the people - the group he lived with, the counselors "who really cared about the kids and truly believed in the program," and the Marines "who really seemed to care for the kids."
Snyder, son of Amy and Steve Snyder of Mayville, said Boys' State helped him better understand the complexity of government. The "intensity and rigor" of the program surprised him.
He enjoyed challenging himself by campaigning for different offices, but Sam Snyder reports the highlight of the experience was "meeting motivated kids from all over the state."
Snyder competes on the varsity soccer and track teams, has been a member of Student Administration since his freshman year and is a member of Sources of Strength. He was inducted into the National Honor Society last fall and is active in the Spanish Club.
As a sophomore, Snyder was selected to participate in the Hugh O'Brian Youth Organization leadership program at University of Rochester. He is active in Medical Explorers Post 222 at Brooks Memorial Hospital. Snyder looks forward to attending a four-year college and has considered a career in medicine.
Lesniowski is a member of Student Administration and of the Sources of Strength pilot program, a comprehensive wellness program from University of Rochester that helps students develop multiple sources of support, so that when times get tough they have resources they can rely on. He has competed in varsity soccer and track since his freshman year, has served as class secretary and treasurer and has performed in the school musicals "Footloose" and "Happy Days." He has been named a Student of the Month, has achieved high honor roll status each year and has received numerous academic awards for accomplishments in Honors English, TV productions, French IV and studio art.
Lesniowski was a senior level regional competition winner in New York State History Day and a documentary semifinalist in the same competition. He was a regional winner in the National Society of Arts and Letters Scholarship contest. In June he was honored with the U.S. Air Force Recruiting Service Mathematics and Science Award, the University of Rochester Xerox Award and the Rochester Institute of Technology Innovation and Creativity Award.
With his class, he has twice helped clean up Rails To Trails in the Mayville area, and he helped teach third graders at Chautauqua Lake to combat bullying.
During the summer of 2012, Lesniowski attend the month-long Tisch School of the Arts summer program at New York University in which he earned six credit hours in film and production studies. After high school, he looks forward to returning New York City, where he will attend the NYU: Tisch School of the Arts to earn a Bachelor's Degree in film studies.
Rauh competes in softball and volleyball and has also played basketball at Chautauqua Lake. She has been named a Student of the Month, has served on Student Administration since her first year of high school and has been elected class secretary. Hannah has been a peer tutor since her sophomore year, and she competes on the High School Bowl academic team. Last year she was inducted into the National Honor Society and served on the prom committee.
She has earned a Sportsmanship Award, Coaches' Award and was named Most Valuable Player for softball and received a Dedication Award and was named First Team All-Star for volleyball. Rauh held an internship in physical education, has participated in Mega Stars and Cheer Starz, as well as JAVA volleyball and has been a mentor for the youth softball program. In the past, she has helped with the Chautauqua Lake Shooting Stars girls' basketball program.
Rauh's week at Girls' State "was mostly filled with hours of workshops and meetings, but those hours were truly life changing. I have never been surrounded by so many incredible and brilliant women. The experience has shaped me to not only be a determined young woman, but also a proud American."
The Girls' State experience reinforced Hannah's plans to pursue her dream of becoming a lawyer.
Boys' and Girls' State are leadership action programs of The American Legion and Auxiliary. The citizenship training programs are designed to develop a working knowledge of government and inculcate individual responsibility to the community, state and nation.