Today is Super Tuesday, when 11 US states will decide which candidate they most want to take up residence in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue later this year. "The Donald" is clearly on a roll, with three states already firmly in the bag, and the number of opponents still in the running for the Republican nomination having dwindled to a mere five.
Wherever he goes, he delights his supporters – even with the promise of violence against a heckler, bemoaning the demise of the good ol’ days, when folk like him were carried out on a stretcher. Aides have been sacked from campaign teams amidst accusations of underhand guerrilla tactics, and even the Pope has waded in, seemingly raising questions over Mr Trump’s Christianity.
But whether it’s the supremely coiffed, reality TV star billionaire Donald Trump, or the Texan senator Ted Cruz – or indeed the candidate that the party elders are starting to swing behind, Marco Rubio – up against Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, 20 UK sixth-formers are guaranteed an experience of a lifetime when they see the action right up close as they work as campaign interns for the final two weeks of the US elections.
Repeating a programme run by the Transformation Trust in 2012, Inspire US 2016 will be the trip of a lifetime for these sixth-form students as they travel out to the notorious swing-state of Florida (also home territory for Mr Rubio) to work cheek by jowl with experienced campaigners in the closing days of the presidential election in the autumn.
Students will work with both Democrats and Republicans, learning campaign techniques and experiencing first-hand the febrile atmosphere that is US politics. In 2012, students rolled their sleeves up and got involved in the nitty gritty of campaigning – from the canvassing through to attending the big rallies, and even meeting Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton. The Class of 2016 can expect much the same.
'Trip of a lifetime'
To apply, schools are invited to put together a team of four students – all of whom must be in the sixth-form at the time of the trip – accompanied by one teacher. To secure their place, they are asked to demonstrate their understanding of, and passion for, US politics. In particular, students are asked firstly to nominate their dream presidential ticket, identifying a candidate for president and vice President – this can be any combination of past or present politician or public figure from any country. Second, they are asked as team to indicate what their first executive order would be if they were in office. And finally, they are asked what local campaign they would run to improve their community, using the techniques learned from taking part in the US elections, on returning home.
Alumni of the 2012 programme have gone on to do great things. Having been involved in running a hugely successful campaign to reduce knife crime in South London, one school team has excelled in particular: one student won the prestigious Morehead-Cain scholarship at the University of North Carolina, whilst another is studying mandarin at SOAS, University of London and a third is due to take up a place at the LSE this coming September.
The Inspire US 2016 alumni will, no doubt, also go on to do great things too. And who knows, perhaps even one or two will be future political leaders too.
Amy Leonard is CEO of the Transformation Trust. Inspire US 2016 is fully funded and open to any school that has more than 20 per cent of its students eligible for Free School Meals. To request an application form, email email@example.com. The deadline for completed applications is 24 March.
The Transformation Trust is the official charity of the 2016 TES Awards