Six students from West Potomac and Mount Vernon high schools saw the legislative process in action this week during a three-day visit to Richmond sponsored by Del. Scott Surovell.
The juniors and seniors are participating in Surovell’s second-annual Amundson Institute Young Leaders program. The institute was named after former Del. Kris Amundson, who began the program in partnership with Cox Communications.
As part of the trip, students spoke with Surovell, D-44th District, and his aides about state government, visited the House of Delegates floor, attended two committee sessions and had lunch with Amundson. They also met with Gov. Bob McDonnell and state Sen. Toddy Puller, D-36th District, took a tour of the Executive Mansion and sat in on a Senate session.
West Potomac senior Colin Chatfield, 18, said he learned much about how state government works during the trip.
“When I came out of there, I knew how the House of Delegates and the Senate work, how committees work, how bills go through the legislative process and such,” he said. “ … Politics is not really a subject we walk about at school at West Potomac, and with the presidential race coming up and being able to vote in this election, I thought I’d learn more about my state government.”
Eugene Coleman III, a Mount Vernon High School senior who is participating the the Young Leaders program, currently interns at the Environmental Protection Agency and said he knows more about federal government than state government.
“By going down there, I was able to learn the intricacies of state government and how it all works,” he said.
Coleman, 18, said he has an interest in politics and public office but also wanted to help develop his leadership skills.
Surovell said his own experience as a governor’s fellow intern in 1993 in Richmond influenced him to continue the program.
“Getting to see what the state government does on a first-hand basis got me really interested in state government,” he said. “And in Northern Virginia, there tends to be a lot of focus on the federal government and local government, and I think this broadens the horizons of high school students.”
Each student also completes a project focusing on an aspect of state government and presents the project at the end of the legislative session.
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