Reported by Alex Hubbard, Atlee High School, and Safiya Khan, Dominion High School
Walking to breakfast on our last morning at Sorensen is bittersweet. Although it’s the last time we have to wake up at the crack of dawn, it’s also the last time we get together as a group and eat; the last few minutes we get to cherish before our “Sorensen bubble” is popped. Despite the fact that we all miss our families and are eager to see them at graduation, it also marks our goodbye to our HSLP family. At the tables of O. Hill, we discuss how quickly these two weeks have passed, how we have barely put a dent into packing, and how we’ll keep into contact the moment we step off the UVA grounds.
Two weeks ago we drove up to Gooch-Dillard dorms in a mix of nervousness, excitement, and stress. We didn’t know what to expect, who we would meet, what it would be like to learn about politics for two whole weeks. It’s easy to say that we hit the ground running the first night debating about voter registration, making the long trek to CVS with music blaring, and making it back just on time at 9:59 pm. These past two weeks have flown by so fast before you can even say “Sorensen Points” but have also felt like a lifetime packed with so many memories, conversations, and inside jokes that even Tarina couldn’t fit them all into our graduation speech.
It’s been an amazingly busy time staying up late doing the reading, doing policy projects, watching The Bachelorette, and turning down sleep for hour-long deep conversations about everything. Literally. Being around so many different types of people, experiences, and beliefs really teach you a lot about yourself just as much as it does about the other 31 people with you. As Tom Walls always urged us to question “why?” we all experienced a transformative experience delving deep to the core of our own beliefs and what that meant. Instead of just saying “because it’s right” we were forced to really defend our beliefs, justify them, and argue just as hard for the other side in order to understand our own better.
These past two weeks wrapped us all in a bubble of politics, friendship, and creating unforgettable memories. From raging on the dining hall food, singing to Lalala, debating who Hannah should pick, taking it way too hard in water balloon fights, getting our hands sucked on by baby cows, making too many runs to CVS, playing four square, jamming to country music 24/7, wishing we could ride on limes, doing high ropes twenty feet in the air, balancing the budget, eating pizza everyday, playing 270, writing a whole policy, serendipitously meeting the First Lady of Virginia, finding out how the rest of Virginia felt about us “NOVA kids,” making smores, competing for Sorensen points, snacking on the mini-grocery stores in our suites, and getting up every morning wondering if sleep was even real, it’s easy to say this year’s High School Leadership Program was a life-changing two weeks that will leave all of us forever different one way or another.
To my fellow Sorensen High School Leaders, I feel so blessed to have met every single one of you. Every single person comes into our lives for a reason to teach us something. Without even one of you, the experience would have been completely irrevocably different. It truly was meant to be. Even though I probably won’t see all of you again, I have complete faith that we’ll all take what we’ve learned and spread it across our communities. After learning just how polarized our national and global world has become, I trust that we’ll all try our hardest to change that the best we can. After all, you can’t always change people’s minds or their hearts, but you can change the policy.