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EVENTLeaders for the Future

DATE: Friday, April 30 from Noon to 2 p.m.

LOCATION: John Tyler Community College Chester Campus
13101 Jefferson Davis Highway,
Chester, VA 23831, Bird Hall, Room B-116

CONTACT: Kirsten Nelson, SCHEV Director of Communications,
(804) 225-2627

Twenty-four students from Hopewell High School will spend two days brainstorming ideas to make their school a better place to learn. Six teams of students will come up with actual projects that can be completed in three weeks, are approved by the school administration, and are low cost.

The workshop is called “Leaders for the Future” and is facilitated by John Jay Bonstingl who has held these workshops in dozens of schools across the country. Bonstingl concentrates on what he calls the innate ingenuity, imagination, and leadership that he believes exists within all students.

The students in this latest workshop are participants in GEAR UP, an acronym for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs. GEAR UP is a federal grant program that is administered by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV). The workshop is sponsored by a $5000 grant from State Farm. “Service Learning programs like GEAR UP provide a great forum for students to create projects that will improve their schools,” said Jon Hannah, State Farm Public Affairs Consultant.” The positive impact they have on the participants, school administrations, and entire student bodies is amazing! When students are involved in implementing positive changes to their school, it is more likely to have a long term affect.”

The student teams are asked to think about how they would like to see their school improve and then come up with ways to make it happen. Students at one school in Maryland wanted a friendlier environment so they created a “Switcheroo Day” in which students pick a lunch table assignment out of a hat and sit with a random group of classmates rather than their usual clique. Another team felt the trash in areas adjacent to campus was affecting school pride and organized a community clean up day. There have also been projects that pair older students with younger ones who need extra help with assignments.

“Student participants gain invaluable insights into their own character and competencies, as they build upon their existing strengths,” says Bonstingl. “Teachers begin to change the way they view students — no longer as empty vessels to be filled, but rather as partners in progress.”

The media is invited to attend the last two hours of the April 30th session when the students will present the projects that they have created.



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