Reported by: Caroline Tyler, Douglas S. Freeman High School and Kareem Baig, Basis Independent McLean
Today, the Sorensen HSLP participated in its first classroom experience. We started the day with an insightful session led by an enthusiastic Lauren Gilbert. Ms. Gilbert jumped right into the topic of ethics in politics by challenging the students to think of the ideals of the state, characteristics of an ideal leader, and the public perception of politics. After brainstorming and a discussion about the evolution of our civic education, Ms. Gilbert talked about modern media in politics. Using our new knowledge of basic ethics, groups deliberated to determine the five most important characteristics of a leader. Many of our suggested traits aligned with the most popular global traits: honesty, trustworthiness, responsibility, respect, and diligence. Utilizing pyramid graphics, Ms. Gilbert taught about the creation of a legislative agenda. Values, the most agreeable step of the process, are incisive ideas for the future. A goal enumerates the value once it is established and the plan for implementation of the goal is called the strategy. Finally, tactics are the behaviors and specifics used to execute the strategy. Returning to ethics, Ms. Gilbert outlined several ethical dilemmas, notably truth vs. loyalty, individual vs. community, short term vs. long term, and justice vs. mercy.
After a short break we were greeted by Marc Johnson. Mr. Johnson started off by letting the students explain why they either perceived Virginia as a red or blue state. He then linked this to our reading assignments and how events that happened more than a decade ago foreshadowed the current polarization of America. Using the information we had prepared the night before we then discussed the polarization of America. Mr. Johnson concluded the session by discussing the demographics of Virginia. The students were allowed to appreciate how vast and diverse Virginia really was and how the Commonwealth was often ahead in education and lower unemployment rates. Overall, all the attendees of the session felt enlightened and more informed about Virginia and ready to eagerly discuss ideas about how we can make our home a better place.