Since 1984, high school students in Cape Girardeau, Jackson, Delta and Oak Ridge have participated in the Optimist Youth in Government Day on the first Wednesday in May. During the day, students are paired with government workers and have the opportunity to learn how government works and key decisions are made.
Youth in Government Day is sponsored by Optimist clubs in Cape Girardeau and Jackson. It was organized and has been coordinated by Thomas M. Meyer, who recalled the experience of participating in a mock trial as a seventh-grader. Over the years, the program has received special recognition from Optimists International and has been copied by other clubs.
Now, 25 years later, Meyer is turning over the coordination of Youth in Government Day to Wayne Wallingford, vice commander of American Legion Post 63 in Cape Girardeau.
Meyer said he will miss seeing the "awakening" students have through their community involvement. "You can just see it in their eyes."
Area youths are fortunate that someone like Tom Meyer was willing to put the effort into organizing this education-in-civics opportunity for so many years. The community owes him its thanks for a job well done.