Editor’s Note: This is the third of our three-part series highlighting a few of the many ways county employees and agencies provide valuable learning opportunities to our Fairfax County Public Schools’ students. This hands-on experience supplements the tremendous work our teachers provide in their classrooms. Good luck to our students and teachers as they begin the 2017-2018 school year!
- Read Part 1 – Partnership with Schools Gives New Life to Old Computers
- Read Part 2 – Partnership With Schools Turns Students Into Citizen Scientists
While our national government is in the headlines and our state gets ready for a major election, 32 of our best and brightest high school students are getting immersed in local government and public service.
The students are participating in the Youth Leadership Program, a joint effort by our county and schools to educate and motivate high school students to become engaged citizens and leaders in their community. The award-winning program was established to enhance students’ understanding and participation in local government, as well as encourage careers in public service.
“The Youth Leadership Program is great for students because it develops integrity, companionship and open-mindedness,” said Jeremy Klein, a senior at Marshall High School. “In meetings, we cooperate with peers who are often very different from us, and in our large scale projects – including our summer internship – we learn diligence, proactivity and self-sufficiency. If we want to heal our divided communities, we need students with these fantastic traits!”
Students begin the rigorous Youth Leadership Program in February of their junior year and continue through January of senior year. During monthly after-school meetings held at county and school facilities, they participate in a series of workshops, presentations, interactive lessons and debates. Students complete work assignments related to each session, interview community leaders and make presentations about their experiences in the program to eighth grade civics students.
A highlight of the program is a paid three-week internship in July. The students intern at a variety of locations, including Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) administration, Board of Supervisors’ offices, Neighborhood and Community Services facilities and the Office of Elections, to name just a few. The high school students get a first-hand opportunity to observe our county at work and meet the people who influence policy and make decisions.
“I can’t think of a better opportunity for our FCPS students to learn about the structure and function of local government,” said Chris Karayannis, FCPS teacher and a Youth Leadership Program coordinator. “They get to learn about and appreciate the vast number of services that the county and our schools provide to our residents, and through the internships, actually participate in the delivery of some of those services.”
Applications to the highly selective program are available to high school juniors attending a Fairfax County Public School. The application process is open in the fall, with an early November deadline. Students should contact their guidance counselor or government teachers for more information on how to apply. The application includes a short essay and requires recommendations. Selected students are required to attend the monthly after-school sessions and the three-week internship in July, as well as complete occasional assignments.