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BHS senior Washington-bound

Brookhaven High School senior James Dennis has always hadpolitical aspirations, and now he is officiallyWashington-bound.

It’s not for the long haul yet, but Dennis will spend a week inWashington at the beginning of March as a guest of the UnitedStates Senate. The trip is courtesy of the United States SenateYouth program, which allows two student leaders from each state tolive the life of visiting ambassadors for a week.

“What we’re going to do is go to receptions and meetambassadors, and we’re actually the guests of the Senate,” he said.”We’ll be meeting senators and representatives. Mostly we’ll justrelaxing and chilling in D.C. and learning about the politicalatmosphere up there.”

The conservative president of Brookhaven High’s Student Councilwas also elected as governor of Boys State last summer and waschosen as a senator to Boys Nation, where he was a candidate forpresident.

While in Washington, the student delegates will attend meetingsand briefings with the president, Supreme Court justices, leadersof cabinet agencies, ambassadors, senators and congressional staffand top members of the national media. The students will also tourmany of the national monuments and several museums.

Dennis, who will receive a $5,000 scholarship as a result of hisselection, said he found out about the program when counselors atBHS asked him if he’d be interested in applying.

“They asked if I would want to go, and I said, of course,because any free trip to Washington, I’m going to take,” hesaid.

The application process also involved a test of more than 200questions about the U.S. Government, Dennis said. He had to go toHattiesburg and take the exam, which he said was definitelychallenging.

“It included things about the constitutions and electedofficials on the state and national levels,” he said.

But Dennis didn’t have much to worry about, as he had thethird-highest score out of the state’s almost 3,000 applicants.After an interview process in Jackson, Dennis and Ronniekka Stewartfrom Houlka were selected Mississippi’s two representatives.

Dennis said aside from meeting the legislators, one thing he’sexcited about is the living arrangements. He’ll be staying in theMayflower Inn.

“That’s where the senators and legislators stay when they’re upthere,” he said.

The son of Brookhaven’s James and Cassandra Dennis said he’sdefinitely aiming for a life as a politician, although he’s willingto take it one step at a time.

The first step in the plan is to attend the University ofSouthern Mississippi and major in history and political science.After that, he hopes to attend Yale Law School.

“That’s my biggest hope and prayer is to go there, andconcentrate in constitutional law,” he said.

After that, he said, he’ll practice law for a time. He pointedout that presidential candidate Barack Obama was a constitutionallawyer with a law degree from Harvard before he began his politicalcareer. That fact is important to him because he said he met Obamain South Carolina recently and feels the Illinois senator has someinspirational ideas.

Then the Brookhaven hometown boy begins his ascent to thetop.

“After I practice law for a while, I’ll do some civic andcommunity work, then go into politics,” he said. “I’m going tostart small, and then go for the state house or senate, then moveup from there.”