“I really didn’t expect to get selected,” said the 17-year old Spanish Springs High School soon-to-be senior. “I was shocked.”
Lide was selected as one of the two Nevada representatives to attend the 2008 Congressional Academy, coordinated by Ashland University in Ohio and funded by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE). Out of 658 possible applicants, Lide was one of the 100 members who enjoyed a two-week stay in the nation’s capitol with day trips to Philadelphia and Gettysburg, returning Monday.
All hotel, meal and tour expenses were paid for by the DOE and each student received a $250 stipend for travel expenses.
The application process involved reviewing of grade point average, SAT and ACT test scores and a general essay, requiring top performing students.
Having never visited Washington, D.C. before, Lide said the experience was surreal.
“It was weird seeing stuff that you normally would see on television,” Lide said. “Now I can look at Capitol Hill and say that I’ve been there.”
The academy brings in high school juniors from all around the country to focus on three influential and pivotal documents in American history. This includes the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s “I have a dream” speech.
Attendees discussed and debated these documents, taking a more in-depth look at their impact on the forming of the country, Lide said. During their stay, the attendees visited streets, halls, battlefields, monuments and private lodgings where history took place.
“I enjoy history and learning about the past,” Lide said. “I like seeing how societies develop.”
And while the varsity basketball point guard said he doesn’t necessarily enjoy politics, Lide said he has now started to consider getting involved with the political system.
“I don’t really like being in the public eye,” Lide said. “But I learned a lot about political philosophy. It was a good experience.”
Also, Lide was able to meet people from all over the country, an enriching opportunity that he said has influenced him overall.
“It really changed my perspective on things,” Lide said.
Lide, who has taken an Advanced Placement class in U.S. history earning himself college credits, has not decided on which college to attend but has been hoping to play Division II basketball at Chico State University.
And while he will not be old enough to vote in the presidential election come this November, Lide said he would support Republican Sen. John McCain.
“His plan for the war just seems more realistic to me,” Lide said, disappointed that his 18th birthday is a couple months after the election.
Such an experience for any college-bound student like Lide is good exposure to the demands of college professors, since teachers from several universities ran the discussions. Participants were also given three college credits for completing the academy.
Lide is undecided as to what he wants to study in college, but admires his history teacher at Spanish Springs.
“I’m pretty good at history,” Lide said, with a modest shrug. “I’ve always enjoyed studying it.”