Biddeford resident Michael Delorge, a senior at the Maine School of Science and Mathematics in Limestone was chosen as one of Maine’s two delegates to the U.S Senate Youth Program in Washington in March. He is shown here at the State House in Augusta where he previously attended at YMCA Youth in Government program. Courtesy Photo

BIDDEFORD — Michael Delorge said his interest in politics began in Augusta as a member of the Maine Youth in Government Program. That interest will be further piqued  later this year in Washington, D.C. He’s one of two Maine students chosen to be a delegate to the United States Senate Youth Program.

In the earlier state program, “for four days in the seats of the Maine State House, youth from all around the state were able to debate pieces of legislation written by each other,” said Delorge, a Biddeford resident and student at the Maine School of Science and Mathematics in Limestone. “There were two things though that sparked my interest in politics that I found at Youth in Government: actively understanding and being involved in the legislative process and being encouraged to have civil discussion with my fellow Mainers. I think that this last point, civil discussion, is incredibly important at this point in our nation’s history and will be critical for my generation to engage in.”

Delorge and Elena Clothier of Lewiston will join U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King in representing Maine in the nation’s capital during the 58th annual United States Senate Youth Program Washington Week, March 7 to 14. The two were selected from among the state’s top student leaders to be part of the 104 national student delegation who will also each receive a $10,000 college scholarship for undergraduate study.

“The U.S. Senate Youth Program, among many amazing opportunities, will allow me to engage in conversation with my American peers of all backgrounds and sides of the political aisle,” said Delorge.

Each year the competitive merit-based program brings the most outstanding high school students to Washington, D.C. for a week-long study of the federal government and the people who lead it, according to the Maine Department of Education, which announced the Maine students selected for the program.

“The overall mission of the program is to help instill within each class of USSYP student delegates more profound knowledge of the American political process and a lifelong commitment to public service,” according to the Maine DOE. In addition to the program week, The Hearst Foundations provide each student with a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship with encouragement to continue coursework in government, history and public affairs. Transportation and all expenses for Washington Week are also provided by The Hearst Foundations; no government funds are used, according to the Maine DOE.

Chosen as alternates to the 2020 program were Lance Dinino, who attends Kennebunk High School and Kristen Caldwell, who attends Scarborough High School.

Delorge, a senior, is a member of his school’s student senate were he chairs the Academic Committee, is the president of his school’s robotics club, and an active member of the astronomy club. He is a jazz saxophonist, cross country runner and an Eagle Scout. Delorge has an interest in public health policy and upon graduation, said  he plans to major in biomedical engineering with a minor in political science.

While in Washington the student delegates attend meetings and briefings with senators, members of the House of Representatives, Congressional staff, the president, a justice of the Supreme Court, leaders of cabinet agencies, an ambassador to the United States and senior members of the national media.

In addition to their leadership abilities and commitment to volunteer work, the DOE said student delegates selected rank academically in the top one percent of their states among high school juniors and seniors. Among the many who have taken part in the program is Sen. Collins, the first alumnus to be elected a U.S. senator.

Delorge is ready for the opportunity.

“I am incredibly excited for the chance to expand my horizons by engaging in political discussion with my peers in Washington D.C. this March,” he said. “I’ll be carrying with me my Maine spirit and background as well.”

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