Interns learn county government

Published 2:22 pm Saturday, September 26, 2009

JACKSON — Something unique is happening in the meetings of Northampton County Board of Commissioners.

Over the next several months, selected high school students from throughout the county will observe their local government in action.

Each month the board will host one intern from a local high school who will sit in on meetings in order to learn about the inner-workings of government. The students selected will come from both public and private schools, including Northampton County High School-East and West based respectively in Creeksville and Gaston, Northeast Academy in Lasker and KIPP Pride High School in Gaston.

For Commission Chair Robert Carter it’s a vision that has become a reality.

“I had a dream to reach out to young people and let them see how the county operates,” he said. “Let’s try to encourage them every chance we get.”

Commissioner Virginia Spruill later said she was please with having an intern program.

“I’m happy to hear we’re (including) all of the (high) schools in the county,” she said.

The first intern to observe the board was Arthur Jones, a senior at Northampton County High School-West. Jones was supplied with the necessary materials for the two meetings he attended in September, including a duplicate board packet with all the information the commissioners receive on the topics that are discussed and voted on.

Jones is no stranger to how the board operates. The 17-year-old, who serves as Captain of JROTC at his school, participated in a mock commissioners’ meeting in April. Jones served as Clerk to the Board during that mock meeting and the experience was just enough to spark his interest in government.

“It motivated me to want to learn more,” he said, donning a suit and tie. “I’m excited to be here today.”

Jones said he first learned about the opportunity from his guidance counselor at school.

Carter said next month a student from Northampton County High School-East will join the board, followed by a student from KIPP Pride High School for the month of November. In December, a student from Northeast Academy will serve as an intern. After each school is rotated through, Carter said the cycle will begin again.