Area students participate in conference at The American Village

Twelve area high school students recently participated in The American Village’s 2002 George Washington Leadership Conference.

They met in a replica of the assembly room where the Declaration of Independence was signed and the first constitution of the United States was debated in Philadelphia, Pa., on Friday, June 7 at the Village, constructed off Highway 119 in Montevallo.

Featured were student leaders from Briarwood Christian, Calera, Montevallo, Shelby County, Thompson, Vestavia Hills and Benjamin Russell high schools as well as the Alabama School of Fine Arts.

Youngsters were selected by their respective schools.

During the leadership conference, the students discussed current trends, issues and problems in politics including taxes on large industries, property taxes and the use of a lottery to fund education, said Marquita Davis, who served as monitor.

Davis is a former assistant professor at the University of Montevallo.

She currently serves as director of Title III Sponsored Programs and Development at Lawson State Community College in Birmingham.

&uot;You have voice. You demonstrated that in what you did today,&uot; Davis told the students, &uot;I applaud you. I commend you. I’m so very proud of you.&uot;

Davis said the conference was built around leadership in politics and government, democracy, the role of the citizen and the responsibility of the citizen to the republic.

Davis also pointed out that

students interacted with a panel including newly elected Shelby County State Rep. Cam Ward; Shelby County Assistant District Attorney Bill Bostick; the Rev. James Evans of Cross Creek Baptist Church, who serves as a columnist for the Birmingham Post Herald;

Larry Matthews, a consultant and former chief executive officer of The Bank as well as former president and CEO of Highland Bank in Birmingham; Linda Long, director of communications for

the American Village; and Kevyn Stewart of ABC 33/40.

American Village Executive Director Tom Walker presented the students with certificates of accomplishment, building blocks, T-shirts and posters of a George Washington statue.

He urged the students to use their building blocks as encouragement &uot;to help build this place (The American Village).&uot;

Walker also invited the students to return later to participate in a mock election there.

Participating students included Hunter Hill of Shelby County High School, Lindsey Hornbuckle of the Alabama School of Fine Arts, Jessica Brooke Jackson and Amber Wade, both of Thompson High School, Caroline Nabors and Liz Scroggins, both of Benjamin Russell High School, Seth Olson and Kelly Rush, both of Vestavia Hills High School, Sarah Snyder of Briarwood Christian School, Cory Tracy and Jessica Yearber, both of Calera High School, and Rachel Watson of Montevallo High School