Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


February 13, 2013

Student DC-bound for teen senate program

Meshnick earns $5,000 scholarship, trip

On Sunday mornings, local teen Andrew Meshnick can hardly wait for his daily newspaper. He peruses every section, because he enjoys catching up with what's going on in the world.

Wait a minute. Shouldn't Andrew Meshnick, 18 and a senior at Andover High School, be on Facebook, posting photos from the weekend or something? Or excessively texting on his smartphone?

Stereotypical use of technology takes a back seat, as Andrew's Sunday ritual is near and dear to him.

It has also earned him a $5,000 college scholarship and a coveted free trip to Washington, D.C. to take part in the U.S. Senate Youth Program.

This son of a dentist and lawyer is among 104 high school delegates from across the country who will attend "Washington Week" next month. Each year the competitive merit-based program brings 104 top high schoolers together - two from each state, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity - for a program focused on how government works. The goal is to get students interested in public service. The Hearst Foundations pays for the all-expenses paid program and the scholarships.

Andrew, also a nightly news devotee who flips between Diane Sawyer and Scott Pelley, said his news-watching and reading habits help him learn more about interesting worldwide issues, which he enjoys. So, when the selection team for this program had him write an essay on the Arab Spring - a series of activities ranging from political protests to civil war that happened in several Arab countries, including Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and Syria - in an hour with no access to the Internet, he aced it.

"I think when a broad number of opinions are presented, it's interesting, and I like to think about all those opinions," Andrew said. "I don't necessarily agree, I just like to learn."

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