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Just Owen and his shadow
When Lt. Gov. Brad Owen woke up and saw his shadow on Groundhog Day, he didn't predict
that there would be six more weeks of winter. Instead, the lieutenant
governor's shadow meant that Jed Dern from Cedarcrest High would be
following him around for the day.
"It was a good chance to see what was going on in the state Senate
and see what the lieutenant governor really does," the Red Wolves'
Dern was chosen to follow one of the state's most influential
politicians as part of the nationwide Groundhog Job Shadow Day. Dern was
among 2,000 other students in the state who followed politicians, executives
and media personalities last week.
"I was very nervous at first because I have never done anything
like this before," Dern said. "But by
the end of the day I felt more comfortable."
"[Owen] is very friendly and he doesn't make you feel like he's
way more important [than you are]," he added.
The duo's day started at 9 a.m., which allowed time for Dern
and Owen to chat before the demands of the day surrounded them. Then
Dern curiously watched as Owen presided over the discussions of several bills
in the Senate.
"Sometimes I felt out of place because I couldn't understand what
they were talking about," Dern said.
"But some things I could relate to, like substance abuse for teens, where I
probably knew as much about it as they did."
After all of the legislative business was finished for the morning, the
lieutenant governor spent some time in Dern's world as a student.
The Spanish Consulate offered to supply a teacher for anyone who wanted
to learn the language, so Owen and several staff members signed up for
"We have such a large Spanish-speaking population in
Washington," Owen explained. "When I do
my [school-related] programs, I want to honor them and have some
conversation in Spanish with the students. And make them feel important."
Dern, who is learning Japanese at Cedarcrest High, managed to
learn two words during the session tren and autobus which mean
"train" and "bus" in English. "That's
about it; that's all I could pick up," he admitted.
Owen also spends time in high schools and middle schools across
the state talking with students about drug, alcohol and violence issues. And
he was impressed with Dern's determination and interest in the same
"Jed's a reinforcement of what we've been saying for a long time,
that 99.999 percent of our young Americans are not fodder for
Columbine," he said. "And it's good to have
At Cedarcrest, Dern is involved with Partners in Prevention
which finds alternative activities for teens to do instead of their turning to drug
or alcohol abuse. Dern said he'll invite Owen to speak at the school to
give his perspective on drug use among high-school aged students because
it's a problem that affects the entire Valley.
"It's always there," Dern said. "You can just turn away from
them, which a lot of people do, or you can get involved with them, which is
what other kids do."
"I will keep in touch with [Owen] because we can talk about issues
with him and he could give us a legislative point of view," he added.
By the end of Groundhog Day, that was exactly what the lieutenant
governor said he was willing to do for Dern.
"It was a very good match and hopefully by being here and
talking, we gave him some encouragement to go forward with some things
he wanted to do," Owen said. "And I
was probably more impressed with him than he was with me."