Teen addresses Congressional committee

Members of a U.S. congressional committee and an audience of about 150 sat engrossed as an LDS student told of the death of a fellow student and testified on March 24 in favor of encouraging states to cut the percentage of allowable alcohol in teenagers' blood when they drive.

The student is Jane Partridge, student body president of Langley High School and a member of the McLean 2nd Ward, McLean Virginia Stake. Washington, D.C., television news programs featured her calm but hard-hitting comments about an automobile accident last year in which a young woman at her school was killed. The driver of the car had been drinking.Jane said the High Risk Drivers Act (H.R. 1719), would provide financial incentives to states to take action to reduce preventable accidents, including allowing only .02 percent blood alcohol content to drivers under the age of 21.

Congressman Frank Wolf of Virginia, the sponsor of the bill, complimented Jane, who won a competition to accompany him and testify before the congressional committee. He said: "Miss Partridge's testimony was very compelling, particularly from the standpoint that this is a young person who is urging that this legislation be passed. She handled herself with phenomenal poise for her age, not only in delivering her testimony but also in responding to questions of committee members. There are no better allies that we can enlist than the young people themselves."

After she testified, Jane said: "My opportunity to testify before Congress only strengthened my belief that each one of us can make a difference in our families, our communities and in the nation as a whole."

She further commented, "I can easily say that the gospel has been the most influential factor in deciding who I am and what I stand for." She believes the Church has helped guide and motivate her many other activities and successes.

The Partridge family's membership in the Church stemmed from the admirable lifestyle of a co-worker of Jane's father, Mike. That co-worker was Richard G. Scott, now a member of the Council of Twelve, who was an expert in atomic fuels working for Admiral Hymen Rickover in developing atomic submarines until he accepted a call to preside over an LDS mission in Argentina.

After returning from his mission, Elder Scott worked for a consulting firm comprising three of Admiral Rickover's former top associates. Mike Partridge, a nuclear engineer, observed Elder Scott's lifestyle for years and concluded that being LDS was a positive attribute.

When the construction of the Washington Temple was completed and it was open for visitors, Mike Partridge asked Elder Scott for tickets. Elder Scott not only obtained tickets, but first invited the Partridges to a fireside at his home to discuss the purposes of the temple. After the fireside, Patty Partridge commented to her husband that they had tried several churches, none of which they found satisfactory. So why not try the Mormon Church? she asked. They subsequently were converted and have served in many leadership positions.

From the age of 5, Jane Partridge has exhibited her talents. She has been the principal for numerous local and national TV commercials, including for Nikon cameras. She has also modeled for many published ads including such companies as General Motors. She has been an actress in 10 different high school, college, community and professional plays including "Annie," in which she performed eight times a week for five months. She has been trained in drama and dance at the Columbia School of Theatrical Arts, as well as in voice and piano, having performed recitals at the Peabody Conservatory of Music.

She has held student offices every year in high school, leading up to her current position as student body president. She has been a cheerleader and has participated in many athletic activities, all while making nearly all A's in advanced placement courses. She still has found time for service activities, has attended seminary consistently and has been an active Church member.

Jackie Thomas, Young Women president of the McLean 2nd Ward, said that Jane provides strength to the youth activities of the ward, while also providing a wonderful example of what one can become while living the standards of the Church in non-LDS communities. Jane's parents describe her as never compromising her values, while respecting other people's values.

Jane said, "The Church has taught me to stand up for what I believe, something that has proven to be helpful in decision making and, in addition, character building."

Jane credits her parents for their examples of dedication to the Church. She also praises her teachers in the Church. She said of a former Sunday School teacher: "Brother Roger Porter served as an assistant to President (George) Bush and, I'm sure, could have easily been caught up completely in his office duties. But our faithful Sunday School teacher never failed to teach us an insightful and meaningful lesson each week."

Jane is the fourth student body president of Langley High School who was, or became, an active member of the McLean 2nd Ward. Only one young woman prior to her was ever elected president of the Langley High School. Interestingly, the opposing candidate to Jane for the presidency was also LDS, Tom Lindsay. Her three LDS precedessors as student body president were Tom Griffith, J.C. Richards and Von Lindsay.

Tom Griffith, who joined the Church during his junior year, is now a partner in a Washington, D.C., law firm, and bishop of the Leesburg Ward, Oakton Virginia Stake.

J.C. Richards, whom Tom Griffith baptized before leaving for a mission to South Africa, later served as a missionary to Puerto Rico. A developer, he is now bishop of the Hispanic Bella Vista Ward in the McLean Stake.

Von Lindsay, who served a mission in England, graduated from BYU in communications and is working in advertising in Virginia.

LDS students comprise only about 3 percent of the students at Langley High School.

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