High School Leaders

HSLP 08 Day 3, Monday July 14
Jul 16 2008 - 10:10pm

High School Leaders Program Class of 2008
Day 3, Monday, July 14
Reported by:  John Barber and Joi Crenshaw

     This morning as my classmates and I walked to class, we did so in anticipation. All of us were eager to meet our speaker. As we entered the room, Mr. McGuire, the first speaker of the day, greeted us. During our three-hour time period together we analyzed and discussed a powerpoint presentation. The powerpoint broke down statistics about various regions across Virginia. Once some of my classmates got more in-depth into the discussion, they began to interact with Mr. McGuire as well as those around them. After our discussion concluded, it was time for lunch. When lunch was over we were broken off into groups separated by the regions in which we live. In those sub-groups conversations arose about the pros and cons of each of our various regions. It was discovered that each region had different pros and cons. Later on this afternoon Chris Saxman joined us. He was quite entertaining, very open, and obviously secure in his beliefs. Before I knew it, the day was finished. It was truly a great beginning, and only a taste of what is to come.
—Joi Crenshaw of J.R. Tucker High School

     So, it’s day three, and also our first day of classes, which is pretty exhilarating if I say so myself.  We started classes off with “The Informed Citizen” instructed by Mr. Matt McGuire.  It was really interesting to talk about the divide of our country according to party affiliation, and Mr. McGuire’s insight on this matter was really informative and helped us to understand some of the information from the Washington Post articles. Next, we discussed a powerpoint showing the demographics, ethnicity, etc. of Virginia and the various regions of the state.  I was thoroughly interested in topics such as the problems of the regions, or where the income of the state comes from.  We next did an activity that would show us whether our region tended to lean left or right, and also if we had many swing vote attributes.
     After lunch, we began work on our Culminating Projects, it was very informative and all the while interesting to see the problems that the other regions had.  Some of them were very funny to hear, some were odd, and some made a lot of sense.  Though our regions have a lot of differences, there were some strengths and weaknesses that we all share.  It was a nice feeling to see that we all worried about the same things, even if we thought differently on some issues.  After that it was time to choose the one problem that affected the state the most. The diversity in the problems we saw for the state was a sign that we all are our own people, and don’t just worry about the same things.  Finally, before our next speaker came in, we voted on what we would want to work on the most.
     Delegate Chris Saxman came in to speak to us (see photo), and I found his lecture to be very good.  Delegate Saxman was open to us and treated us like we were adults, yet still had a sense of humor.  He was very good at answering questions, and made sure that everyone who had a question got an answer.  I thought when he answered that he elaborated on it so well that there wasn’t much need for a further answer, he got to the point basically.
     The last thing we did before we left the class was work on our introductions, which was helpful.  I enjoyed getting to learn more about everybody such as quirks, hobbies, and other things of the matter.  Tonight, we begin research on our Culminating Projects, and also begin the reading for tomorrow’s session of "The Informed Citizen."  I’m sure the future will have something exciting in wait for us.
—John Barber of Fluvanna County High School

HSLP 08 Day 2, Sunday July 13
Jul 16 2008 - 7:13pm

High School Leaders Program Class of 2008
Day 2, Sunday, July 13
Reported by: Martina Hairston and J.R. Riegel

Today was particularly enjoyable. Having helped each other through trying challenges, we now know and trust each other not only as fellow attendees of the HSLP, but as friends. After the initial drive of almost two hours, we arrived at Challenge Discovery. Of course, to taunt us, the owners of Challenge Discovery decided to set up their tent and activities directly next to the roller coasters of King's Dominion. However, the noises of the theme park faded away as we became absorbed in the activities of the day. After the initial introductions, we made a large circle and learned the ways of pirates. Although it may have felt odd at first to make lighthouse noises and deck-swabbing motions, it was an excellent and exciting icebreaker. Following this, we separated into three groups – the tigers, the pandas, and the raccoons.
      The authors of this post happen to have both been tigers, so we cannot speak of what the pandas and raccoons started out doing. We, however, began by learning each others names by way of throwing a ball about. Afterwards, we were led into the forest where the challenges begun. First off was a series of cables connected between trees. The goal of this exercise was to work effectively as a team to get our entire group from one side of the course to the other. After some initial planning and trials, we worked our way to the goal together. Because this was the first of these events, our progress was very noticeable. We quickly opened up to each other and communicated much more actively – even those doing nothing at the moment were able to aid the team with encouragement and advice.
     Subsequent challenges included an X made of rope on which two team members had to start on opposite ends and then switch places. This too, we soon discovered, required continuous communication and help from all members of the team. We then climbed an initially daunting arrangement of logs, ropes, and footholds called the Alpine Tower. With the encouragement and support of our teams, many of us climbed up the 60 feet to the top. Finally, we moved on to a towering machination which required the work of many of us to move others across the obstacles. On the ground, we pulled and slackened ropes to move those of us up above across the ladders, ropes, cables, and planks that led the way to the final zip line.
     These activities were, of course, much more than just fun. They taught us not only about each others' abilities, but our own as well. We developed our communication and listening skills, and we came to trust each other with our lives. Challenge Discovery helped us come together – it broke down our individual barriers, opening us up to each other and helping us form a strong community. We developed our abilities to work effectively as a team, which is unquestionably vital to success in the world. We had a whole lot of fun while we came together as a strong, trusting, and close team. It was an enjoyable, educational, and an overall exceptional day.

— Martina Hairston, Roanoke, Patrick Henry High School Class of 2009
     J.R. Riegel, Glasgow, Rockbridge County High School Class of 2008


HSLP 08 Day 1, Saturday July 12
Jul 16 2008 - 2:08pm

High School Leaders Program Class of 2008
Day 1—Saturday, July 12
Reported by: Michelle Kinzer and David Newill-Smith

     It was 11:30am when my family arrived at Bice hall. We expected a whole flood of people to be filing in to the building with lamps, luggage and pillows, but it turns out we were a bit early. Very early actually…we were the first ones here. As it got closer to 12:00 though, cars began to wander into the parking lot. The families and students started unpacking and settling in. When I first saw my apartment suite I was so excited! I unloaded my corn pops and bagels in the kitchen, my laptop and notebooks on my desk and all my dress clothes for the next two weeks into my spacious wardrobe. It was surreal to finally be here after all the anticipation.
     At 2:00pm we met in the lobby of Bice for the beginning of the orientation. Our parents went down in the basement lounge to learn all about what we will be doing for the next couple of weeks and the students went on an exhausting tour of the campus. It sure is hot in Charlottesville in July! When we met back up with our parents it was time to say goodbye until graduation. The last thing that my mom said to me was, “I’ll be checking the newsroom every day for updates of what you’re up to!” So…hi mom!
     Right away we began a jam-packed day full of activities. What a schedule! First we played a fun icebreaker game to get to know each other a bit better. I learned a wide variety of things about people from what movies and food they like to what specific bones they have broken. After getting to know all of our classmates we ate dinner in the Bice basement lounge. We then split up into teams and set off on a campus scavenger hunt. What a fun way to get to know our way around the grounds! My personal favorite tasks that my team completed were kissing the Thomas Jefferson statue on the lawn, building a human pyramid and reenacting a scene from a Disney movie on the amphitheater stage.
     When we returned to Bice around 8:45pm we played the song lyrics game in teams, and then we went back in the basement for a super hilarious game of telephone charades. It ’s like the game telephone, but instead of whispering into the next person’s ear, you act out the word. We ended up with some pretty twisted answers when the last person had to guess the word. Somehow rollercoaster turned into a car crash, flamingo turned into the chicken dance and elephant turned into a religious prayer ritual. Finally when we returned to our rooms and we all ate ice cream sundaes in Emily’s room. Now it’s 11:00pm and I am thoroughly worn out! I want to get some sleep for tomorrow, but at the same time I really want to hang out with all my new friends. I’m totally excited for the next two weeks!
—Michelle Kinzer of Annandale High School


We passed through the doors of Bice Hall around 12:00.  After lugging my home up the two terrible flights on the elevator, I tried to make some sense of how to put my life together for the next two weeks.  Over the next two hours, my roommates drifted in with their belongings.  Though the room was slightly crowded with the armies of parents barracked beside us, with their help we got moved in fairly quickly, said our goodbyes, and started off on the tour.
     From Thorton Hall and the classrooms to the corner to the lawn, we toured the sights of good ole UVA.  And what a sight it was.  That’s probably the most inspiring thing about UVA to me.  I look around and see the 200-year-old buildings surrounding me, see Edgar Allen Poe’s room, and Thomas Jefferson’s statue, and bask in the presence of the greatest men in the history of the United States.  I’m standing and learning in the same place where Madison and Jefferson once stood. And it amazes me.
     We returned to Bice Hall for the orientation, a couple name games where we all tried our best to not fall over everyone else, and then went out for the scavenger hunt.  We kissed statues, embarrassed bearded men wearing madras pants, and then Caroline stated that a guy across the street was indeed wearing…pants.  Finally after several trips to the UVA Corner and harassing the UVA souvenir shop employees for a Virginia Tech shirt (all in good fun of course), we returned home to dinner and night of singing, telephone charades, and ice cream, and we ended a full, fun day. A good start to a promising two weeks.
—David Newill-Smith of Clover Hill High School in Chesterfield County

Roanoke Times on the HSLP 08
Jul 15 2008 - 7:51am

For the first time since the inception of the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership's high school program in 2003, students from Roanoke City Public Schools will be in there. Starting Saturday, Sonora Braun, Martina Hairston and Ben Ries, all rising seniors at Patrick Henry High School will live and learn with 29 other Virginia high school students on the University of Virginia's campus for two weeks. —Roanoke Times

Click here for the full story.

The Sorensen Institute's High School Leaders Program Class of 2008 began on Saturday, July 12. The two-week session will take place on grounds at the University of Virginia.

BREAKING: Sorensen Announces 2008 Youth Program Members
Apr 7 2008 - 11:56am

BREAKING: The Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership is very proud to announce the members of our 2008 College and High School Leaders Programs.

Competition to participate in this year's programs was particularly intense, with a record 127 applications received from communities across Virginia. We want to thank the members of our Regional Boards who volunteered their to help make the selections.

Marc Johnson is Director of Sorensen's Youth Programs. "This is an historic year for our College and High School Leaders Programs. We have never before received so many applications with this number of outstanding young leaders. These will be fantastic classes, and we are very much looking forward to getting started."

The College Leaders Program will run from May 31 to June 28. The High School Leaders Program runs from July 12 to July 26. Both groups will live and study on the grounds of the University of Virginia. Our Youth Programs were recently recognized by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as national models.


The members of the Sorensen Institute's College Leaders Program Class of 2008 are:

Michael Billingsley, Dumfries, University of Virginia
Madison Busch, Doswell, University of Virginia
Laura Castro, Richmond, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College
Brookelynn Constant, Bealeton, Christopher Newport University
Bram Crowe-Getty, Amherst, Guilford College
Ronald D'Agostino, Vienna, George Mason University
MoniQue Drake, Richmond, Longwood University
Hunter Fairchild, Palmyra, Lynchburg College
Sarah Drabkin, Springfield, Old Dominion University
Anna Godlewski, Arlington, George Mason University
Benjamin Heath, Virginia Beach, Christopher Newport University
Lacey Howard, Spotsylvania, Christopher Newport University
Allison Hunn, Arlington, University of Virginia
Andrew Jennings, Hillsville, Hampden-Sydney College
LaThaniel Kirts, Portsmouth, Morehouse College
Jonna Knappenberger, Charlottesville, College of William and Mary
Anne Lojek, Chester, Sweet Briar College
Elizabeth Maloney, Vienna, Radford University
Jordan Miles, Dillwyn, Longwood University
Ameera Mistry, Colonial Heights, Virginia Polytechnic and State University
Melissa Molnar, Chesterfield, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College
Matthew Ogren, Ashland, Duke University
Matthew Reges, Clearbrook, The College of William & Mary
Joseph Riedel, Burke, Christopher Newport University
Benjamin Schultz, Winchester, College of William and Mary
Heather Shuttleworth, Alexandria, James Madison University
Soulmaz Taghavi, Midlothian, Virginia Commonwealth University
Adria Vanhoozier, Christiansburg, Virginia, University of Virginia
Dale Warfield, Portsmouth, VA, George Mason University
Torrey Williams III, Bumpass, Virginia, Bridgewater College

The members of the Sorensen Institute's High School Leaders Program Class of 2008 are:

Khadeeja Ashai, Yorktown, York High School
Mary Atkinson, Java, Chatham Hall
John Barber, Fork Union, Fluvanna County High School
Sonora Braun, Roanoke, Patrick Henry High School
Maribel Castaneda, Harrisonburg, Harrisonburg High School
Mitchell Caudill, Midlothian, Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School
Joi Crenshaw, Glen Allen, J.R. Tucker High School
Joshua Fleming, Mount Jackson, Stonewall Jackson
Martina Hairston, Roanoke, Patrick Henry High School
Colin Harris, Marshall, Sidwell Friends School
Sirisha Iruvanti, Yorktown, Tabb High School
Helen Jones, Danville, Chatham Hall
Michelle Kinzer, Springfield, Annandale High School
Emily Marshall, Richmond, Douglas Southall Freeman HS
Richard Murphy, Chesapeake, Norfolk Academy
Nathalie Navarrete, Alexandria, T.C. Williams
David Newill-Smith, Midlothian, Math and Science School at Clover Hill High School
James Paulose, Fredericksburg, James Monroe High School
Kimberly Quick, Chesterfield, Maggie L. Walker Governor's School
Jonathan Riegel, Glasgow, Rockbridge County High School
Benjamin Ries, Roanoke, Patrick Henry High School/Roanoke Valley Governor's School for Science and Technology
McCullough Roach, Amarillo, Texas, Woodberry Forest School
Caitlin Saloka, Forest, Jefferson Forest High School
Bisma Sheikh, Boyce, Clarke County High School
Ladi Smith, Charlottesville, Saint Anne's Belfield
Trent Smith, Williamsburg, Lafayette High School
Christina Solebello, Louisa, Louisa County High School
James Underhill, McLean, Langley High School
Andrew Werner, Norfolk, Norfolk Academy
Amber Wiley-Vawter, Blacksburg, Floyd County High School
Kevin Xiao, Glen Allen, Maggie L. Walker Governor's School
Emma Yackso, Charlottesville, Charlottesville High School

PODCAST: HearSay with Cathy Lewis 3.31.08
Apr 2 2008 - 2:36pm

The Sorensen Institute's Youth Programs were the subject of a recent episode of HearSay with Cathy Lewis on WHRO in Hampton Roads.

Guests included Amy Richardson of Virginia21, a graduate of the College Leaders Program Class of 2007, and Marc Johnson, Director of Sorensen's Youth Programs and a graduate of the College Leaders Program Class of 2003.

This is a fantastic conversation that explores the mission and impact of the Sorensen Institute. Enjoy!


Sorensen Receives Record Number of Apps to Youth Programs
Mar 15 2008 - 10:25am

The Sorensen Institute received a record 127 applications for our 2008 High School and College Leaders Programs. We received applications for both programs from every region in the Commonwealth.

Throughout the month of March, staff and Regional Board members will conduct personal interviews with applicants. Classes will be announced in April.

The College Leaders Program will run from May 31 to June 28. The High School Leaders Program runs from July 12 to July 26. Both groups will live and study on the grounds of the University of Virginia.


Last Week to Apply to Youth Programs!
Feb 25 2008 - 10:16pm

This is the last week to apply for the 2008 season of the Sorensen Institute's youth programs.

Click here for information and a link to the application for our College  Leaders Program.

And click here for the details and application for our High School Leaders Program.

Both programs take place on grounds at the University of Virginia this coming summer.

The deadiine is March 2. Spread the word! Apply now!


2008 Youth Program Managers
Feb 14 2008 - 2:04pm

The Sorensen Institute today announced its 2008 Youth Program Managers: Jamie Lockhart, a graduate of the College Leaders Program Class of 2007, and Curtis Walton, a graduate of the College Leaders Program Class of 2006.

Our Youth Program Managers provide critical leadership roles in the success of both the College and High School Leaders Program. The Managers assist staff in numerous ways and offer valuable guidance to class participants. The Sorensen Institute selects its Program Managers from among the alumni of our College Leaders Program, and it has become an honor in itself to serve the Sorensen mission in this way. We are very proud that Jamie and Curtis will be joining us this summer.


Jamie Lockhart, CLP 2007, from Midlothian. She will graduate from James Madison University this spring with a degree in Political Science and minors in Nonprofit Studies and Political Communications. Jamie has been Valley Region Chair and VP of Membership for the Virginia Young Democrats.  She served as a Senator in the JMU student government, as an Orientation Program Assistant, and as a Resident Advisor.








Curtis Walton, CLP 2006, from Portsmouth. Curtis will graduate from Old Dominion University this spring with degrees in Political Science and Economics. He has served as Vice President of the Student Body at ODU and as a Peer Advisors. Curtis has also interned during the General Assembly's 2007 and 2008 sessions with Senators Ken Stolle and Harry Blevins.






PODCAST: High School Leaders 2007 Graduation— Barbara Fried
Jul 26 2007 - 12:00pm

Sean O'Brien, Barbara Fried, and Paul Harris at the UVA Rotunda, 7.21.07

Chairman of the State Board and a major supporter of the Sorensen Institute, Barbara Fried, spoke briefly at the HSLP 2007 graduation and delivered these concluding remarks.