Skyview student to attend Bush inauguration

Posted: Friday, January 19, 2001

When the opportunity to witness the transition of power from one presidential administration to the next comes along, one Sterling resident considers it too good of a chance to pass up.

Keith Baxter will represent his community as he makes the trek to Washington, D.C., for Saturday's inauguration.

"I am really excited to be going," Baxter said. "I am interested in government, and I am really glad that I am going."

Baxter was selected by the Congre-ssional Youth Leadership Council to attend the 43rd inauguration on the basis of his exemplary performance in the classroom and his interest in leadership. The Skyview High School senior will attend a six-day Presidential Youth Inaugural Conference, where he is scheduled to participate in a variety of activities.

"Throughout the six-day conference, Baxter will interact with key leaders and newsmakers from the three branches of government and the news media, and will participate in many of the ceremonial events that accompany the presidential inauguration," said Mike Lasday, executive director of the Congressional Youth Leadership Council in a prepared statement.

The council is the organization that sponsors the conference.

In addition, Baxter will participate in reality-based simulation to explore the electoral process and various campaign strategies.

"There will be 400 students from across the nation, and we are divided into groups," Baxter said of the activity. "Each group will represent a party, and each student will play a role of a campaign. Some will be field directors, and some will be campaign managers, and everyone will play a part."

Baxter was given the chance to attend the inauguration because of his attendance at the conference in Washington, D.C., last year, a trip he said was well worth it due to the educational experience he received. Only alumni of the conference were invited to attend this year's event.

Attending the inauguration and youth conference does not come free. Baxter said he will pay for the conference the same way he paid for last year's.

"I will be financing myself," he said. "I paid up front and used my dividend to pay for the tuition. When I first paid for it, I was really excited, and then I started to wonder if it was going to be worth it. When I thought about it, I realized that with how close a (presidential) race it was this year, it was definitely going to be worth it."

Baxter, who left for Washington, D.C., Monday night, said he is heading into the conference with more preparation than last year.

"Last year I was really interested in government because I had a really good government teacher," he said. "When I got there, I realized that even though I was interested, I didn't have a lot of knowledge. This year I feel that I am going in a little more prepared, and I think I know what I want to know for the conference."

Baxter isn't the only area resident who will attend the inauguration. Dennis Roper of Soldotna, a special assistant for government and external affairs to Mayor George Ahmaogak of Barrow, visits the nation's capital frequently for business.

According to a North Slope Borough press release, Roper and his wife, Barb, will attend the inauguration.

Roper was unavailable for comment.

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