Reported by Ted McPhillips (Granby High School)
On our eleventh day here at the Sorensen Institute High School Leaders Program, we began with a study hall that allowed us to use valuable time with our policy groups to revise and add to our culminating projects. We read through the YPMs comments on our first full drafts, and worked as a team to fix the problems and weaknesses in our original plans.
After lunch, we were visited by Ali Mislowsky, the VaNews Coordinator for the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP), who talked about what VPAP does and how it achieves its aim of providing information about elections, candidates, and money in politics in Virginia. Ms. Mislowsky showed us the importance of obtaining information about how politicians’ campaigns are funded, and the importance of obtaining information from non-biased sources.
Our next speaker was Jared Calfee, who spoke on behalf of Virginia21. Mr. Calfee talked about how political participation has declined among college students, particularly in non-presidential elections, and how Virginia21 aims to reverse this statistic among college age voters. We were urged, as we near voting age, to help encourage our classmates to register to vote and remind them that their vote in any election does count.
Our third guest speaker of the day was retired Charlottesville Chief of Police Timothy Longo. Mr Longo discussed his current role as a police practice expert in court cases involving police officers, and how potential reform could impact the negative view of police officers in current times. Mr. Longo described the Department of Justice's role in cases where the Attorney General can write a report in how policing is handled in certain cities and how reform, by methods such as transparency, accountability, and community can help police do their job correctly and make the correct decisions in the heat of the moment.
The final speaker of the day was Kathy Galvin, an architectect by trade and member of the City Council of Charlottesville. Ms. Galvin spoke to us about the balance between family and politics and decisions that she has and both as an architect and a politician. Mr. Galvin expressed the importance of spending time with your family as a politician because campaigning and holding office can cause a stripping on your familial relationships. Ms. Galvin also discussed decisions she has had to make that affect the constituents of the City of Charlottesville and how those decisions impact the community's view of her.
Overall, the groups experienced today gave us a good outlook on both the society we live in and how activity occurs in the political arena with the public's influence. Each speaker had something unique to offer and continued the process of helping each student here move closer to becoming a political leader.