Reported by: Carson Martin, Lord Botetourt High School and Knaide Green, Maggie L. Walker
The day began early as members of the High School Leaders Program headed towards
Richmond for a tour of the capitol building and the Governor’s Mansion. Upon arriving in
Richmond, we entered the state capital building where we listened to many excellent speakers.
The first was Albert Flores, a prosecutor who openly challenged us with different scenarios in
the context of a criminal case. The activity proved that his job was filled with difficulties and that
the choices were not always clear. While waiting for one speaker to arrive, we were fortunate
enough to receive a visit from Jessica Killeen, who gave insightful comments about the
importance of networking and choosing the right college. We also were able to listen to Traci
DeShazor, current Deputy Secretary of the Commonwealth, who shared her wisdom about
overcoming obstacles in the vision of success. Her inspirational words affected everyone, as
seen by the swarm of students desperate to speak with her following her lecture. James
Livingston, president of the Virginia Education Association, was incredibly engaging with us as
he encouraged us to ask questions about the education system which we experience firsthand.
Finally, Jim Beamer, a lobbyist for Dominion Energy, explained the process of advocating a bill
to legislators and shared some personal advice.
We then received an informative tour by Martha Snellings, who knows almost everything
there is to know due to her many years of service, of the capital building and learned about its
long history. We saw many historic statues and busts of people like George Washington,
Thomas Jefferson, and George Mason. We also saw a painting of the battle of Yorktown,
Pocahontas, the first ships to arrive in Virginia, and many others depicting historic people or
events. We then split into two groups; one toured the Governor's Mansion while the other
listened to speakers at the lieutenant governor's office. On the tour of the mansion, we learned
unusual facts like how Virginia’s state fossil is the scallop, and about the history of how one
child, Billy, accidentally set an entire room on fire with a sparkler and a Christmas tree.
Meanwhile, group two went to the lieutenant governor's office where we received life lessons
from people that worked for the lieutenant governor. They talked about their experiences and
their journeys to their current positions.
After the tour concluded, we took a quick group photo on the steps of the capital building
before settling in for the hour-long bus ride back to UVA. Back in Bice, we were greeted with
pizza and free time, which some students used to explore downtown Charlottesville while others
took advantage of the time and caught up on their lack of sleep.