Tipton, Mo. (Nov. 21. 2014) — After a night filled with patriotism and competition, four high school juniors punched their tickets to Washington, D.C., Thursday night as part of the Co-Mo Youth Tour delegation.
The students are Claudia Schmitz of Warsaw High School, John Wolf of Tipton High School, Lindsey Morris of California High School and Taylor Ellebracht of Boonville High School.
These four will join up with more than 85 others selected by electric cooperatives across Missouri and descend on the nation’s capital in June to participate in the Youth Tour along with more than 1,500 kids from 47 states.
The four were selected based on projects that answered the prompt: “Describe one thing Co-Mo does besides providing electricity to improve the communities it serves.” The more than 100 projects entered in the contest detailed Co-Mo’s efforts with the Co-Mo Connect fiber-to-the-home project, the Youth Tour program itself, the cooperative’s safety and energy efficiency programs and its support of the Buddy Pack program to feed hungry children.
“What an amazing night,” said Co-Mo CEO/General Manager Ken Johnson after the event. “The talent these kids showed — all nine of the finalists — was just outstanding.”
In addition to presenting their projects, the finalists took a written test and competed in a game show.These scores were added together with scores for presentation skills and professional maturity. The top point earner from each of Co-Mo’s three service districts won a trip to Washington, D.C. In addition, for the first time since 1973, the cooperative selected a fourth winner, who was chosen based on the highest point total after the district winners.
Youth Tour began in 1957, after future president Lyndon Johnson challenged a gathering of electric cooperative leaders from across the country to send young people to Washington, D.C., so they could see what the flag truly stands for. Missouri sent its first group of delegates in 1964. That delegation included Gloria Knipp — now Gloria Hays —who was in attendance at Thursday night’s finals.
“The trip was fantastic,”Hays told the audience at the finals, which were held at the First Baptist Church in Tipton. “We took a bus back then, so we got to see a different part of the country, and it truly created a lot of lasting memories and friendships.”
The five runners-up — Jensen Bower and Kira Ritchie of Stover High School, Haylee Thomas of Boonville High School and Ashtyn Goans and Sophie Brant of California High School — don’t go away empty handed. Each receives a college scholarship.
“Co-Mo is committed to the young people of our communities,” said Co-Mo Communications Manager and YouthTour coordinator John Agliata. “Whether its opening up new horizons for them through this trip of a lifetime or helping them pay to further their education,we do these things because it’s the right thing to do for the kids of the communities we serve, the communities we live in.”