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Laramie teen one of 104 students nationwide attending U.S. Senate Youth Program


CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The Wyoming Department of Education and the United States Senate Youth Program announced Friday that high school students Casey J. Dean Toner of Glenrock and Grace H. Zhou of Laramie will join senators John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis in representing Wyoming during the 62nd annual USSYP Washington Week, to be held March 2–9.

Grace Zhou, a senior at Laramie High School, was awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award Gold Medal for her work with the Red Sand Project and Laramie Interfaith. She is currently a legislative intern, and her future includes pursuing a public policy and behavioral economics degree with an emphasis on public health.

Casey Toner, a junior at Glenrock Jr./Sr. High School, has advocated for Career and Technical Education, including efforts related to the Prep Act and Perkins funding, where he engaged with Senators Barrasso and Lummis. He has been accepted as a high school intern for the Wyoming Senate, and plans to dual major in political science and CTE education.

“Learning about how our federal government works is an essential part of citizenship, and the U.S. Senate Youth Program is an experience second to none for our students.” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Megan Degenfelder said in a news release. “Casey and Grace are Wyoming student leaders and display the characteristics required to excel in this program.”

Chosen as alternates to the 2024 program are Emma Pehringer of Buffalo High School and Carson Krueger of Laramie High School.

Each year, the competitive, merit-based program provides two outstanding high school students from each state with an intensive week-long study of the federal government and the people who lead it. In addition, the Hearst Foundations provide each with a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship with encouragement to continue coursework in government, history and public affairs.

Delegates and alternates are selected by the state departments of education and the District of Columbia and Department of Defense Education, after nomination by teachers and principals. The chief state school officer for each jurisdiction confirms the final selection. This year’s Wyoming delegates and alternates were designated by Superintendent Degenfelder.