Archive for Thursday, August 30, 2001

Summer break from school had EHS senior booked

August 30, 2001

Looking at his easy-going demeanor and calm, collected speaking style, it might be hard to guess what Matt Clark's schedule looked like this summer: Boys State one week, a cadet training camp the next. Football and basketball camps squeezed in before a trip to Australia and New Zealand. Free weeks were set aside for working as a lifeguard at the city pool or taking college tours.

Now that his summer "vacation" is over, Clark gets up for football practices, puts in a full day at school, and goes back for more practice.

Yet Clark, a senior at Eudora High School, said he doesn't regret any of the activities, some of which were open only to students between their junior and senior years.

"I'm glad I did it all this summer," Clark said. "It's good to see all different cultures a lot of people don't see. It was a good opportunity for me."

Clark's summer schedule began the first week of June at Kansas State University in Manhattan. Clark spent a week at Boys State, an American Legion camp that allows high school boys to understand a democratic government though simulated elections and other activities. The legion also sponsored a Girls State.

Clark participated in a group called the Association of Minorities, which had $1,500 in simulated cash to spend on elected officials.

"We were voted the best because we got what we wanted," he said.

Just like Clark's schedule, the family's dining room table is chock full. But the evidence of the excursions packets from Boys State, a group photo from the cadet academy, tribal weapons from Australia and New Zealand Clark laid out with order and precision.

Organization helped him jump from Boy's State in Manhattan one week to the Cadet Law Enforcement Academy in Salina the next. Rather than making a trip back to Eudora overnight, Clark stayed with a relative nearby.

The academy gave Clark a chance to see what it takes to be a Kansas State Trooper. Clark said he jumped at the opportunity to see law enforcement up close after writing a research paper on the subject for an English class.

The fundamentals of law enforcement came off the page when troopers let Clark use a device, much like a video game, that simulates situations where an officer must decide whether to open fire. The experience became more realistic when troopers let him get behind the wheel of one of their automobiles at the Salina airport.

"They had half the airport shut down so we could use it, so that was kind of cool," Clark said.

But troopers limited the young cadets' ability to take full advantage of the buttons and gadgets.

"We only got to run the sirens and lights," said Clark, who also gave a speech at the graduation ceremony.

Although he's spent time in the water as a lifeguard, Clark had his first experience up in the air this summer. When he traveled to Australia as a student ambassador to play baseball earlier this month, he took his first plane ride.

The program threw Clark together with athletes from across the nation, he being the only Kansan. Nonetheless, his team managed to come home with a 4-1 record.

"It was pretty easy, because everyone had worked well together and had done this kind of thing before," Clark said. "The competition was good, too."

A late flight from Australia meant Clark, who plays football, basketball and baseball at EHS, had to step right into two-a-day practices, even though he missed the morning practice. The time change wasn't exactly easy to accommodate for, either.

"I pretty much had Monday twice," Clark said.

His mother, Brenda, said that although Clark's summers had been busy in the past, this summer presented new challenges with the amount of traveling he did. Clark enjoys involvement in a wide range of activities, Brenda Clark said.

"If he decides to do something, he's going to do it," she said. "He's always kept up a really good schedule."

Clark keeps his activities straight with the help of a book to write down his schedule. Penciling in family time during the summer wasn't too easy with Matt's siblings' schedules, too.

"With all of this, it was like if we could find one time during the summer when we were all together it was amazing," Brenda Clark said. "Other than that, it was like, 'hi' and 'goodbye' as we'd pass in the doorway."

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