CAIRO — Grady Electric Membership Cooperative selected three high school juniors to send to Washington, D.C., for an entire week as part of a program to encourage youth leadership.

Max White of Thomasville High School Scholars Academy, JT Andrews of Cairo High School and Sandy Baker of Bainbridge High School will visit the nation's capital June 13 as part of the 2019 Washington Youth Tour.

While in Washington, the students will meet with members of Congress, tour historic monuments and participate in leadership experiences.

Adam Starr, spokesperson for Grady EMC, said the WYT offers a unique opportunity to interact with elected officials, noting one Thomasville student on last year's trip who spoke with SenatorJohnny Isakson.

"She had some environmental issues that were in her heart and she had some face time with Senator Isakson and she was able to share those concerns with him," Starr said. "You never know how those encounters will affect the decision-making of those senators when bills come across their path. It's a great opportunity for students to have that kind of face time."

Starr said one student was chosen from each of the three counties serviced by Grady EMC: Thomas, Grady and Decatur.

White, a member of the National Honors Society and vice president of the Interact Club at THS, hopes to attend the University of Georgia and major in business management.

“I am beyond excited at the opportunities Grady EMC has offered with this trip," White said. "Washington is the epicenter of politics, and it’s great that students from south Georgia can get first-hand experience in that environment.”

Andrews, a member of the National Honors Society and Fellowship of Christian Athletes at CHS, said he plans to attend either Florida State University or Valdosta State University to study physical therapy, specializing in athletes.

“I look forward to going on the 2019 Washington Youth Tour to represent my school well," Andrews said. "I am very grateful and excited for this opportunity.”

Baker, a member of BHS' Anchor Club, Future Business Leaders of America and student council, said she hopes to attend Columbia University, where she plans to major in international business and minor in Spanish.

In order to be selected for the WYT, the three students were interviewed by a panel of judges from Grady EMC representing the finance, member services and management divisions.

The students were then evaluated and selected based on the judges' perceptions of their inclinations toward leadership.

Starr said the judges ask school administrators and guidance counselors to help identify three to four juniors they feel have natural leadership abilities.

"It's not like we're going to go pick the valedictorian and salutatorian of every school," Starr said. "Every student has equal opportunity to go and represent us, their school and their community."

Grady EMC officials will transport White, Andrews and Baker to Atlanta to meet with more than 100 other students selected by other cooperatives for the Youth Tour across the state to take part in team-building activities before boarding a flight for Washington.

Once in the capitol, the Georgia delegation will meet with more than 1,800 youth representing cooperatives across the United States.

The students will return June 20.

All expenses will be paid for by Grady EMC.

The WYT, which began in 1965, is sponsored statewide by the Georgia Electric Membership Corporation.