Kathryn McAuliffe chosen for Sophomore Pilgrimage


Fatema Rehmani

Preparing for her first districts round, sophomore Kathryn McAuliffe debates how we should handle the global drug crisis, between the criminal justice system and public health system. McAuliffe competed in MSHAA state districts in Lincoln-Douglas debate, which surrounds philosophical values in the context of topics provided. “I aimed to stay involved and educate others on politics through speeches and competitions,” McAuliffe said. “I was reading my case out loud to make sure it sounded smooth and I was well-articulated.”

More than 300 sophomores in the state of Missouri will be traveling together April 9 to attend the 85th annual Sophomore Pilgrimage in Jefferson City.

The purpose of the Pilgrimage is to give recognition to high school sophomores who exemplify high standards of honor, courage, citizenship, scholarship, leadership and service. Sophomore Kathryn McAuliffe was nominated for the trip by her counselor, Jennifer Wibbenmeyer, and the social studies department.

“Students get to learn a little about the politics,” sophomore assistant principal Beth Middendorf said. “But they also learn about how to be a strong leader and have a voice. Students have to demonstrate that [for the nomination].”

According to Middendorf, McAuliffe’s interest in politics made her a more viable candidate.

“I gave her the option to attend, told her we thought it was something we believed she would enjoy and would be a good learning experience for her,” Middendorf said. “She said yes, and that she was excited about it.”

One sophomore from every high school in the state is chosen to go to Jefferson City to see the Missouri Congress in session and have lunch local government officials.

“I know I’m going to meet officials and be able to talk about domestic politics and politics on the international scale,” McAuliffe said. “I’m really excited for it.”

The General Federation of Women’s Clubs of Missouri (GFWC) Woman’s Library Club I sponsors the Sophomore Pilgrimage and has every year since 1935. The clubs pay for the luncheon and transportation to enable students to see the state government in action. To get the full experience, the students will have to miss the day of school.

“Teachers are going to support her leaving because it is a great learning experience,” Middendorf said.

McAuliffe has experience in politics from Speech and Debate where she speaks on international political topics and analyzes current events. She also writes for a student political news source called Balance the Ballot.

“I’m pretty up to date on my news and politics since I spend so much time reading and listening to different topics,” McAuliffe said. “As a career path, I’d like to do something in politics, so I think having this opportunity is really beneficial.”