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Catonsville High School senior shadows Baltimore County delegate

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Politics is not usually a topic of popular interest for students in high school.

But 17-year-old Shelby Hall is fascinated by the world of government.

Hall, a senior at Catonsville High School, has been shadowing Del. James Malone, who represents District 12A which includes Catonsville, for four weeks as part of for-credit internship.

"I decided last year that I really liked politics when I was in my government class," Hall said.

She went to the work study director at Catonsville High, Christine Tomback, and asked about pursuing an internship in politics.

"I was originally going to do a child care internship, but I decided I didn't really like that," Hall said.

"So I said, 'I know no one really does this, but can I do an internship with a delegate or somehow in the political arena?'," she said.

Given the go-ahead, Hall has spent Tuesdays with Malone since mid-February, sitting in on meetings of the Committee of Environmental Matters, of which Malone is vice chairman.

On her fourth Tuesday in Annapolis on March 5, she attended a number of hearings on the controversial use of speed cameras.

"I feel like every week it kind of is a theme, what they're going to talk about," Hall said.

She noted that cell phone usage while driving was the topic the week before.

Malone sponsored a bill that would make cell phone use while driving a primary offense. Last week, the bill passed in the House and will now work its way through the Senate.

"She's been very interested in that," Malone said. "Very interested in all the different issues that we've had down here."

Hall said she participates in a variety of activities with Malone, ranging from sitting in on meetings to providing a future voter's perspective to bringing him a class of water in the office.

"Every Tuesday, I come out and basically I'm with Del. Malone the whole time," Hall said.

"I assist him in anything he needs. I get to sit in on meetings with him and some of the people who come to committee. I go to committee with him every week, which is interesting," she said.

"She is doing a great job down here," Malone said.

"She comes in and she helps out with a lot of different things," he said. "(She) Helps me, helps the committee to get ready."

He said he is glad to provide her a chance to pursue her passion for politics and see what happens in the state government.

"She is getting, first hand, to see what things are like down here," Malone said.

Hall said her experiences have opened her eyes to the world of politics and that she was surprised at how exciting and heated some of the committee meetings can get.

"I always thought it was very calm and put together and everyone was just calm when they are talking to each other," Hall said.

"But sometimes people get angry. They're very spirited when they're yelling at each other," she said.

Hall will work with Malone until school ends in May, even after the General Session ends April 8.

After graduation, she plans to attend Salisbury University, where she plans to major in either political science or applied political science.

She said she loves the idea of pursuing a career in politics because of the impact government has on the world.

"When things started getting bad with the economy and stuff like that, I just felt that government is so important in making a change, and that I wanted to be a part of that," Hall said.

"I wanted to know what's going on. I feel like so many people have no idea what's going on. I would sit in government class and be like 'I've never heard about this in my life,' " she said.

"And I want to know what's going on all the time. I want to be up to date on things. I want to know what they're (the government) spending money on or what laws are coming out," Hall said.

Hall said she has learned a lot about the way government works and enjoys knowing the results of her work in Annapolis with Malone will be felt at home in Catonsville.

"I think it's so cool, because I get to see so many things that go through here that actually really affect me," Hall said.

"I just think it's really interesting that I get to see what goes on here and it's going to come back home maybe even next year," she said.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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