High School Leaders Program Class of 2022

Day 5: Wednesday, July 13

Reported By: Thomas Chapman, Woodberry Forest School, Tyler Heron, Albemarle High School, and Georgia Thompson , Atlantic Shores Christian School

On our fifth day at Sorensen we went on our first field trip. Today’s journey started by going on a bus to Harrisonburg where we visited the X-Lab at James Madison University. Nick Swayne, Kristen Loflin, and Andy Cohen informed us of the problems and advancements of education in the Harrisonburg school district. Specifically, the panel discussed overcrowding in the high school and the construction of the new public high school in the area. They also brought to our attention the amount of diversity within the school district. This area has around sixty languages present within their student body, and as a result there are many accommodations that have to be made. The panel explained to us that a significant portion of their diversity is due to a large population of refugees brought by the local Mennonite community. Finally, they discussed education during the pandemic, and how they are trying to boost test scores to pre-pandemic levels. 

After our discussion with the school board candidates, we toured the X-Labs. We were introduced to their new and high tech E-Sports gaming arena. Then, we went to “The Tank,” which is an innovative learning environment with state of the art touch screen monitors. This is where students particularly enjoyed playing video games such as Crossy Road and Pong. Another room we visited was an engineering classroom that also included state of the art technology.

After visiting James Madison University, our class visited Cub Run Dairy Farm. We met a fifth generation farmer who informed us on the current farming economy in Virginia. He foreshadowed that there would be a food shortage in the next twelve months. He also brought in Cory Guilliams who works for Natural Resources Conservation Service that explained to us different forms of conservation. We then took a tour of the farm that included meeting baby calves. A highlight for most of the students was watching part of a surgical procedure on a cow and two baby calves taking their first steps! 

Following our hour drive back to UVA we were met with a delicious Chipotle dinner. Finally, we split up into our policy project groups and finalized the ideas for our proposal.

Group photo at the dairy farm with Gerald Heatwole, owner of Cub Run Dairy