Thursday, Jul 31, 2016
High School Leaders Program, Class of 2016
Day 6: Thursday, July 14, 2016
Reported by: Susanna Maize, Jamestown High School and Olivia Even-Vaca, Marshall High School
It was very refreshing to sleep in this morning after getting up so early yesterday. After heading over to our classroom, we began class by reflecting on the knowledge that we took away from yesterday’s field trip to the dairy farm and Staunton. We commented on the impact of technology on farming, the effects of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline on the environment, and the historic renovation of Staunton. We then dove into an in-depth discussion of the structure of Virginia’s government, recapping articles that we read last on the Virginia Constitution and the three branches of Virginia’s government. Some of this information we had touched on before, but it was truly fascinating to learn about the nuts and bolts of how our state passes laws, nominates judges, and plans a budget, as well as their checks and balances.
Before long, we were split into five groups and were tasked with modifying each article in the Virginia Constitution, something that has not been modified for over 40 years. Despite our short 25-minute time limit, every group finished with unique and innovative ideas for our ideal Virginia Constitution. We then wrote our ideas on the board for analysis. Each group selected their favorite, and the class soon became absorbed in a heated debate over each other’s unique ideas. While there were many disagreements, as well as many anonymous agreements, everyone remained respectful and good humored throughout the class.
As our class debates regarding the Virginia Constitution came to a close, we all sat outside and enjoyed a mouth-watering lunch from Jason’s Deli consisting of steaming-hot baked potatoes and salad. Once we regrouped in the classroom, Sunita welcomed Jared Calfee from Virginia21, a Richmond-based nonprofit with chapters at every Virginia public university that advocates for young-adult government participation. He then led an engrossing discussion about the importance of Millennials going out and voting and the power they hold in elections. Everyone made sure to be especially attentive once we realized he had his pockets full of candy and was willing to share. After that, we heard from Michael Signer, the current mayor of Charlottesville, as well as critically acclaimed author. He led a candid conversation about mayoral duties, the problems that Charlottesville is facing, and his humble leadership style.
Our last event in our classroom was a hands-on activity with JoAnn Auger and Timothy Smith about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator system. Prior to coming here, we had all taken an online test to find our four-letter indicator of our personalities; however, today we did not assess our personalities, but talked about the different categories and discussed the types. We touched on the importance of understanding our own strengths and weaknesses in order to work more effectively in our culminating policy project groups. After our event-packed day, we returned to Bice House for a delicious dinner and got to work on our bills for our upcoming General Assembly simulation.