Monday, Jul 31, 2016
High School Leaders Program, Class of 2016
Day 10: Monday, July 18, 2016
Reported by: Evelyn Saunders, Maggie Walker Governor's School and Pablo Gomez Garcia, James River High School
Today, like many other days, was a busy one for the 2016 Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership High School Leaders Program (HSLP). This was our last day doing seminar-style discussion in the classroom with Mr. Marc Johnson. Tomorrow, we look forward to completing the Budget Game with Mr. Johnson, but this was our last day of more formal instruction, and, as such, we tried to make the most of it. As we went over our "takeaways" from the readings and our experiences so far, it became apparent the amazing amount of information we have been able to gather in such a short period of time. Many of us were already applying the learned information to our culminating projects. We would delve deeper into the idea of policymaking. We looked at models and charts and discussed their merits and detriments as it pertained to our form of government policy. The class was then broken up into groups either in support of or in opposition to the policy of various case studies. We were able to work out a lot of problems and extrapolate on a lot of ideas. It seems like we have learned so much and we certainly hope we can put our knowledge to good use.
Next, we broke for lunch, which was another delicious Jason's Deli spread of salads, pastas, and plenty of desserts. Even with the heat, many of us tried to enjoy a little fresh air at this time. The majority of us, however, decided to eat in the comfort of the air-conditioned Nau Hall.
Our first speaker this afternoon was Ms. Barbara Kessler who took us through her résumé workshop. She taught us to write effective résumés for jobs and other opportunities. In this session, we were put into groups and instructed to “brag” about a previous accomplishment that we were proud of. We had a lot of interesting conversations and it allowed us to hear new things about our Sorensen classmates that we had not heard of before.
Then we heard from Mr. Sean Holihan of Anvil Strategies. He gave us specific advice on how to improve and approach our policy projects from a legislative perspective. His analysis of our proposals was incredibly insightful and many of the students have taken his thoughts and suggestions on their respective projects into consideration for the final product,
Our final speaker was Ms. Katy Hurtz from the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP). She went through a rundown of the VPAP website and saw the specific functions that the website had. It is an amazing website that encourages transparency and governmental accountability in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It accomplishes that through easy access to campaign disclosure forms, allowing the public to see who donates to which political parties. Ms. Hurtz also passed around a signup list for the VaNews online paper route and the students signed up to receive daily emails about top stories in Virginia politics.
Before we were ready to return to the dorm for the evening, Cash had one more exercise for us. We were asked to practice non-verbal communication by having one volunteer stand in front of the class totally silent and completely still. We did this with several students and discussed the awkward tension that arouse and the quirks that were brought out in many of us: audience and presenter. We were looking at these ideas in anticipation of our culminating project presentations on Friday in an attempt to start grounding everyone in some more solid public speaking techniques like those that had been previously explained to us by Cash.
When we finally got back to Bice House, we went straight to work on a troubleshooting session. The program managers got together with the individual policy groups to discuss what needed to be done or perfected.
For dinner, we had fried chicken, baked potatoes, tomatoes, and sauces to accompany the meal. To cap off the night, a number of Sorensen students started to watch a horror movie down in the lounge at ten o’clock. There were many laughs shared and it was truly a great bonding moment for those watching the movie.