Gary Walker for Governor
Dick Hodgetts: Columnist
That stirring call is not just for the Georgia General Assembly at the Capitol, but it will also be made for the annual Sophomore Congress, which convenes this week at Morgan County High. Among the students will be their elected Governor: Gary Walker serving for his second year.
These high school sophomores at the Assembly will build coalitions, make impassioned speeches, and attempt to enact their bills. Gov. Walker will address the class with his legislative program, operate behind the scenes, and sign bills that he agrees meet his legislative program. It is worth a visit to see them in action on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. MCHS is earning a fine state-wide reputation for excellence in this arena.
This school year Walker also participated in the Georgia Youth Assembly down at the Capitol and won the coveted McCutchen Award for best debate skills. Now if we had a scouting system for our political process as we do for our football programs, scores of colleges would be recruiting this young man. You may have seen and heard him at the recent celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday. In some respects he conducts himself like a future minister. He is very active in the Union Springs Baptist Church serving as a “praise team leader.”
He first came to the attention of MCHS faculty during a session of his sophomore class. The faculty had put together a program to raise expectations of students and Walker asked to speak to his classmates. Without talking down to anyone, he suggested that he and his peers could accomplish more if they looked inward, and convinced themselves they could accomplish more than anyone asked of them. His peers apparently liked his message: he was elected Sophomore Class President two years ago, and is Senior Class President this year.
When I assembled a group of MCHS students to talk about Walker, the response is always the same, “he is inclusive”, “his appeal crosses racial and demographic lines”, “he is not aligned with one of the typical high school groups rather he includes everyone in his circle”, “he befriends both the quiet and the outspoken”, “he does not talk down to anyone, rather he talks about their common challenges.” Those are strong words from his peers.
When one asks Walker about the source of his message it is a bit old fashioned. Gary says he is “the product of a family that eats dinner together most nights, talk about the issues of the day, related their values to the decisions the family and its members make; and I know my parents will set aside time to support all us kids in our activities”. Preparation like that makes it easier for him to become a class leader; he has been talking about leadership with his parents for years. He is not only establishing a role model for other MCHS students, but he is the first of several Walker youngsters who will leave a mark on our high school. Walker is the eldest of the Walker clan.
People will volunteer that Gary Walker is going to do one thing for certain be successful. Some predict he will be going up the corporate ladders, others see a role in public service; others see him as a minister. Today he is attempting to select a college and he has several choices. But, those of you who read this may want to jot down his name along with several other graduating seniors from Morgan County High School; we are going to hear from this young man who is senior class president and the call some day may be Mr. Governor.
Gary Walker will be the first to tell you that his class is full of great young people who will excel at their chosen professions; but if anyone fusses over their tax bill and the amount that goes to our school system; just spend an hour or two with the Morgan County High Senior Class and be prepared to be impressed. Our investment in the future is going to pay big dividends. Just how long has it been since Morgan County produced a governor? Answer, too long. Some political scout down at the golden dome better watch this young man.
I am sure my friends in the Democratic Party can’t wait to see Walker’s continued maturation. A wise man once said, “a man does not truly become well educated until he thinks deeply enough to change political views from that of his parents.” Walker will get a great education in the next four years. Someone wake up the Republicans! They might have a chance with Gary Walker leaves his legacy on this great state. Whatever his choices it will be fun to watch this young man choose his path and make Morgan County proud.
Special thanks to Dr. Mark Wilson, Jim Malanowski and Leslie Smith at Morgan County High School for arranging a student discussion group. All errors are the responsibility of the author.