BY LOUISE R. SHAW
Clipper Staff Writer
SOUTH WEBER — The chance to observe state government from a front-row seat was something Rachael Howell says she will never forget.
The fourth-grader was given the opportunity to sit on the floor of the Utah House of Representatives alongside Brad Dee, R-11, as votes were being taken and laws made.
“This was one of the best times of my life,” wrote Rachael, a student at South Weber Elementary, in an essay that earned her school $500.
“It was very fascinating,” she wrote. “Representative Dee explained to me that to turn a bill into a law it has to get 38 votes out of the 75 people in the house and 15 people out of the 29 people in the senate. Then the governor has to sign his name and it’s a law!”
It is during their fourth grade year that students learn about local government, so in his second year sponsoring “My Day at the Capitol,” Dee said he chose to invite fourth-graders to learn more about the inner workings of state government.
It is amazing how much students learn during the day they spend at the capitol, said Dee.
“I’m hoping I can get them interested in government,” he said. “I’m hoping they can understand that people just like their neighbors serve in government.”
Each of the six schools in his district were asked to select a student to spend the day with him and a parent.
The essays they wrote after the event were judged by student interns on his staff. Dee then visited each elementary school to present cash awards to the students and to share information about the legislature with their classmates.
Hannah Warren, a student at Roosevelt Elementary, received a $300 award for her school for her second-place essay. Michael Dastrup, a student at Uintah, won $200 for his school as the third-place finisher.
Runner-up awards went to Ashlyn Morris, of H. Guy Child Elementary; Allison Bird, of Riverdale, and Madelyn Mudrow, of Washington Terrace. Each of their schools received $100. Dee emphasized the money was not taxpayer funded, but his personal donation to the schools.
Dee hopes to help students see the importance of reading, studying and getting an education, he said, adding he hopes to help them see what they can become.