High school senior and aspiring judge is putting civility back in civics

Posted at 10:33 PM, Mar 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-17 22:33:54-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- A senior at the West Michigan Aviation Academy recently returning from a prestigious congressional program is proving to be one of the top students in the state with a passion for fulfilling his civic duties.

Luke Koenigsknecht, 17, describes himself as a "Supreme Court nerd" and can name all the sitting Supreme Court justices in order of seniority at the drop of a hat.

“He’s probably one of the more remarkable students that I’ve ever had in my teaching career," says Ryan Kamerman, Koenigsknecht's civics teacher.

Koenigsknecht was one of two high school students in Michigan chosen as delegates for the United States Senate Program, which is fully funded by The Hearst Foundation. As part of the 57th year of the program, Koenigsknecht was awarded a $10,000 scholarship and a trip to Washington D.C. with the other 103 delegates. Their time in the Nation's Capitol was packed with speakers, tours and even a trip to the White House to meet President Trump.

However, Koenigsknecht says the highlight of the trip was the conversations he had with the other delegates.

“One of the points of the program is to encourage that civil discourse that’s been so lacking in our politics in recent years," Koenigsknecht tells FOX 17.

At only 17 years old, Koenigsknecht and his fellow delegates are showing more wisdom and intellectual flexibility than some of the most seasoned politicians.

“I mean you can’t have a real political discussion about the issues unless you’re respectful to them," Koenigsknecht says. "...if you’re just gonna shout and scream at each other, you’re gonna go nowhere.”

That is the reason why this self-described "Supreme Court nerd" says his personal hero is the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative famous for his friendship with another justice who never fell in line with his opinions.

“I really hope to be friends with people that I might disagree with, you know?" Koenigsknecht says. "If like, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia can get along fine then surely America can get together. That’s what I think.”

Kamerman says Koenigsknecht has a knack for keeping civility in civics.

“He’s very good at saying you know, ‘You and I don’t agree with things... We don’t see things eye-to-eye but that’s okay and we can talk about where some of our differences are and then we can find common ground from there and try and go forward,'" Kamerman says.

As for Koenigsknecht's future, he says he wants to be a patent lawyer and one day, a federal judge.

“Given the political climate that we see sometimes, it’s great to see kids like Luke who are very engaged and very civil with their engagement in civics," Kamerman says. "“He might have said that he wants to be a patent lawyer but I think that he would definitely want to be a Supreme Court justice."

Koenigsknecht is still deciding which college he will be attending in the fall. So far, he has been accepted to every school he's applied to. He says he plans to major in electrical engineering with a minor in either history or political science, something he was inspired to do because of his time in Washington D.C.

After his undergraduate studies, Koenigsknecht plans to attend law school.