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As all law students know, it’s important to land a good summer position. But to work in a law firm the summer before seventh grade? Now, that’s motivation. On break from the District of Columbia’s Macfarland Middle School and an otherwise playful summer, a group of students interned at Drinker Biddle & Reath; Dow, Lohnes & Albertson; Koonz, McKenney, Johnson, DePaolis & Lightfoot; and Humphries & Brooks. As part of Macfarland’s Colin L. Powell Leadership Club, selected students participate in internships at businesses across the city, including Raytheon Co. and Deloitte & Touche. Drinker Biddle sponsored seventh-grader Isiah Guinyard for a six-week internship. The 12-year-old spent time with various partners, conducted research with paralegals, was briefed by the firm librarian, and visited the accounting, computer and records departments. Isiah says some of his tasks were more difficult than others. The copying and faxing, for instance, Isiah felt were more challenging than fixing the computers. “I want to be a computer specialist when I grow up,” says Isiah, whose favorite part of the internship was his visits to the Computer Information Systems Department. “I learned a lot there,” he says. As part of the program, the firms pay for the transportation, meals and incidentals of their interns. Each day, Isiah had lunch with a different person in the firm and took field trips most Fridays to the U.S. Supreme Court, museums and Capitol Hill. To Drinker Biddle Washington administrator Sheila Bonham, the summer interns are a delight to have in the office. Many past interns stay in touch with friends or mentors they made during their internship. Some interns demonstrate real potential and maturity, Bonham says: “You see these kids and you say, ‘Remember this name.’” The program began in 1997 after then-Gen. Powell expressed a desire to expand his education outreach into the District. Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, then a private consultant to Powell and now his chief of staff at the State Department, implemented and still directs the program. At the beginning of each school year, Wilkerson recruits more than 50 Macfarland students based on academic performance and community service. In addition to the summer internships, the children are offered intensive tutoring, scholarships to private schools, and leadership-building field trips. They also receive visits from African-American and Hispanic leaders, as well as a one-time visit from Henry Kissinger. The programs offer the children lessons in discipline, responsibility and the knowledge that “education is central to your life and your success,” says Wilkerson. “I’d do it again,” says Isiah. “It was fun.”

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