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N.C. Teens Become Troopers for a Week

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RALEIGH — Summer is usually a time when many teenagers like to find ways to take it easy, but 30 rising high school seniors from across the state earned the chance to spend their summer in a different way. The teens are part of a week long student trooper program that's hot, it's tough, and just the thing to get a first hand look at a possible future in law enforcement.

The first day of Student Trooper Week puts trainees behind the wheel. Candice Whittemore knew this wouldn't be anything like a vacation.

"I thought it would be a little bit of fun, but it's tough -- physically tough, even on the first day," said Whittemore.

Monday, the students tested their driving skills. Next it will be time to put on a racer's helmet.

"Of course on the high speed course, a training officer does the driving," said Cmdr. Frank Stancil of the American Legion. "The student troopers are just passengers."

The American Legion sponsors the program in conjunction with the North Carolina Highway Patrol. The goal is to show the students firsthand what it means to wear a badge.

"It's been pretty good, except for maybe the push ups we've been doing are pretty hard," said student trooper David Ward. "But it's been a good experience so far."

The program is 5 years old and has already borne fruit.

"We've got two members from our first school, which was in 1994 that are in the highway patrol cadet school today, and right now they're in their fifth week of the school and they'll graduate in November," said Stancil.

The week of training includes time spent in a court room as well as tours of prison cells. The students earned their opportunities by being good citizens in their community and showing an interest in law enforcement as a career.

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Rick Armstrong, Reporter
Rick Armstrong, Photographer
MJ Ainsley, Web Editor

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