- Associated Press - Saturday, January 23, 2016

TWIN FALLS, Idaho (AP) - Canyon Ridge High School senior Ashlynn Hall is about to get an up-close look at how U.S. government works.

The 17-year-old is one of two students representing Idaho in the U.S. Senate Youth Program. She’ll spend March 5-12 in Washington, D.C.

Ashlynn, a student body leader at Canyon Ridge, has never been to the nation’s capital and wants to learn about government beyond the classroom.

“I’m really excited to see our national government in action,” she said. She has already been chatting with other youth delegates, too, and is looking forward to meeting them.

The U.S. Senate Youth Program was created in 1962 for high schoolers interested in public service careers.

This year, 104 delegates will participate. They’ll hear policy addresses, and meet federal agency officials, lawmakers and a U.S. Supreme Court justice.

Idaho’s U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch announced last week that Ashlynn and Boise resident Mark Jerome will represent the Gem State.

Ashlynn heard about the program after her friend Amanda Solomon of Kimberly was selected last year.

“I saw all of her really fun posts about it,” she said.

In the fall, Canyon Ridge school counselor Don Fowler presented to student council about the program. Interested students took a politics and government test.

The top two scorers - including Ashlynn - were invited to apply and received letters of recommendation.

They also wrote an essay. Ashlynn’s paper focused on the differences between the Senate and the House of Representatives, and how they work together.

Ashlynn became interested in government and politics after receiving top honors in the Magic Valley Distinguished Young Women program. She spent the summer preparing for a fall state competition.

“The interview is a big part of it,” she said. She focused on political topics such as presidential campaigns.

Ashlynn thinks she did well on the school test because the topic was fresh in her mind. And she already has leadership experience as Canyon Ridge’s student body publicist.

Student leaders recently wrapped up a Pennies for Possibilities fundraiser, where the school raised $22,100 to give presents and basic household items to local families in need.

“It was just amazing this year,” Ashlynn said.

Ashlynn is also a member of Canyon Ridge’s show choir, “SYNERGY!” The group works on choreography at 6 a.m. on school days.

“It’s the perfect start to my day,” she said. Then, the ensemble practices singing during their class period at the end of the school day.

Ashlynn is also a member of Business Professionals of America and National Honor Society, and plays piano.

She applied to several universities around the western U.S. and plans to study occupational therapy.

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Information from: The Times-News, https://www.magicvalley.com

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