U.Va. Media Advisory: Sorensen Institute’s High School Leaders Present Solutions to Issues Facing Policymakers

Students in the High School Leaders Program at the University of Virginia’s Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership have been grappling with issues now facing policymakers, including preventing texting while driving, eliminating non-biodegradable plastic microbeads from cosmetics, adding a concussion baseline evaluation to student athletes’ annual sports physicals, changing the protocol for deciding elections that end in a tie and allowing the use of medicinal marijuana.

Students in the program – a total of 28 from all parts of the commonwealth – will give presentations on their solutions to some of these issues on Friday, from 10 a.m. until noon, in the Great Hall in Garrett Hall on the U.Va. Grounds. Reporters are invited to attend. State Del. David Toscano will be present, as well as Carrie Chenery, senior assistant for policy for Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe; Billy Cannaday, U.Va.’s vice provost for academic outreach and dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies; and R. Marc Johnson, executive director of the Center for Global Initiatives at U.Va.’s Darden School.

High school leaders have been instrumental in providing research to members of the General Assembly on ongoing areas of public interest and policy issues, according to Bob Gibson, Sorensen’s executive director.

The individual student groups identified and began their research on policy problems July 15. Last year, students presented projects on the ethical reporting of gifts, bike helmet safety laws, making voting easier for those serving overseas in the military and bipartisan redistricting.

The High School Leaders Program is sponsored in part by State Farm Insurance Company.

Through a variety of programs – for everyone from high school and college leaders to first-time political candidates and influential business and community leaders – the Sorensen Institute has established itself as an effective force for restoring public confidence in our political system. At the heart of its programs are three central themes: ethics in public service, the power of bipartisanship and a concentrated study of public policy issues. Each program provides an opportunity for leaders to develop meaningful relationships with Virginians of differing political viewpoints who hail from every region of the commonwealth. 

The 2014 U.Va. Sorensen Institute High School Leaders Program participants are:

      •    Melissa Alberto, Robert E. Lee High School; Lorton

  • Maddie Albertson, Fredericksburg Academy; Stafford
  • Jordan Arnold, Rockbridge County High School; Lexington
  • Brittany Beckwith, Midlothian High School; Midlothian
  • Rob Braislford Jr., Patrick Henry High School; Roanoke
  • Peter Brodzik, Douglas S Freeman High School; Richmond
  • John Campbell, George Washington High School; Danville
  • Sophie Crowell, Halifax County High School; South Boston
  • Rachel DePalma, Granby High School; Norfolk
  • Ose Djan, Episcopal High School; Falls Church
  • Galen Green, Maggie L. Walker Governor's School; Glen Allen
  • Kiran Hampton, South Lakes High School; Great Falls
  • Nikki Kothari, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology; Herndon
  • Devin MacGoy, Potomac Falls High School; Potomac Falls
  • William Marker, Central High School; Kenbridge
  • Debbie Mayo, Maggie L. Walker Governor's School; Richmond
  • John Metz, Maggie L. Walker Governor's School; Richmond
  • Robin Owens, Godwin High School; Henrico
  • Haden Parrish, Fluvanna County High School; Palmyra
  • Reshini Premaratne, Maggie L. Walker Governor's School; Glen Allen
  • Sahana Ramani, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology; Herndon
  • Sam Rossi, Middleburg Academy; Leesburg
  • Saajan Sappal, Glen Allen High School; Glen Allen
  • Kathleen Warner, home educated; Warrenton
  • Mason Wheeler, Patrick Henry High School; Roanoke
  • Alex Workman, Fredericksburg Academy; Fredericksburg
  • Katie Zalegowski, James Monroe High School; Fredericksburg
  • Connell Zelazny, James Monroe High School; Fredericksburg

Media Contact

Rebecca P. Arrington

Assistant Director of Media Relations Office of University Communications