High School Leaders Program, Class of 2016
Day 1: Saturday, July 9th, 2016
Reported by: Campbell Baker, Wakefield Country Day School, and Omar Karim, Maggie Walker Governor School
We arrived here at Sorensen knowing no one. We felt a mixture of excitement and anxiety. Around us, all we saw were fresh faces, not knowing what to expect. We all came from different regions and backgrounds within the Commonwealth, from Northern Virginia all the way down to Wise County. We made it our mission to acquaint ourselves with the unfamiliar faces and go outside of our comfort zones.
After settling in, we were told that we were going to take a short tour around grounds. Only one word can describe the tour...scorching! We toured around the Rotunda and learned a little bit of the University of Virginia’s history from our tour guide Grace. We then came back to Bice for a short break followed by the official orientation.
During the orientation, we learned about the “do's” and “don’t's” of the Sorensen program and then proceeded to introduce ourselves. We discussed our earliest political memories, some memories stretching as far back as the 2004 election. After that came an activity where we listed out the first things that came to our minds when told the name of a political party. Next, Cash, our director of student programs, arranged us into groups to create short platforms for each party. Most were succinct, though others stood out for their love Reagan.
We then proceeded to eat a hearty dinner of pulled chicken and pork, mac and cheese, sweet coleslaw, and scrumptious Mississippi mud pie. While we ate, Ms. Laufer, a member of the Charlottesville School Board, discussed a number of issues occurring within Virginia’s education system. Questions ranged from her opinion on College Board’s influence on education to the role of advanced pre-K programs in childhood development. Her discourse on the changing educational environment was eye-opening, exposing us to the growing skills gap between college graduates and workforce demands.
After the discussion, a group of us proceeded out to the Rotunda to play a game of Ultimate Frisbee, followed by a game of soccer. The night ended with us subtly forcing out a student from the lounge in order to play FIFA together. We started our day at Sorensen nervous, not sure whether or not we would find anyone to connect with. Only eight hours later, however, we’ve already grown close together, and can’t wait to see what these two weeks have in store for us.