The Prince William County Human Rights Commission is looking for high school students who are interested in civics and government to serve on its Student Leadership Council. Sophomores, juniors and seniors enrolled in public, private and homeschools in Prince William County are eligible to apply for this year's leadership council starting on Sept. 15. All applications must be received by the end of the day on Sept. 29.
Prince William County Human Rights Commission Executive Director Phyllis Aggrey said that the students who are selected to be on the council will learn about local, state and federal government "through the lens of human rights enforcement." Members will also be taught about their rights and responsibilities and what to do if they experience or see discrimination as they enter the work environment.
Aggrey said she thinks it's important that young people learn about government. "It's important for them to know about their government, how to talk to their legislators, as well as learning about the opportunities and career paths in government."
The new student council will meet once a month, beginning in November, for five months each school year at the Kelly Leadership Center. During the five sessions, members will pick human rights issues that are of interest to them. The council members will work to put together a media campaign on the issue and present it to one another. They will also present to a subcommittee of the Human Rights Commission consisting of commission members and county human rights staff, Aggrey said.
During several of the sessions, the students will hear from speakers representing local, state and federal government to learn a bit about how government operates at all levels. The speakers, in conjunction with the project the students work on, will hopefully foster an interest in government service, Aggrey said. "It's to help the students have more of a real-life experience of what they're learning in civics and government classes."
Tinbite Kelemwork, president of the Human Rights Student Leadership Council and a senior at Osbourn Park High School, said she believes the council offers high school students the opportunity to prepare for the advanced courses that lie ahead. "This is something that really gives you a foot up. If you love government, if you love history, if you love leadership, this is something that really gives you a chance to start off somewhere as a student before you go to college."
To fill out and submit an application for the Human Rights Student Leadership Council, visit the Prince William County Human Rights Commission's website. Questions about the student council can be directed to the Human Rights Office at 703-792-4680 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.