Montevallo student among 50 selected for High School Student Congress

Published 10:43 am Thursday, March 25, 2021

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MONTEVALLO – Montevallo High School student Olivia Gilbert will have the opportunity to participate in a prestigious program in politics and leadership this summer.

Gilbert was among 50 rising high school seniors who were selected to attend the Henry Clay High School Student Congress, a weeklong academic program at the University of Kentucky in which participants explore different dimensions of politics and public policy.

Montevallo High School student Olivia Gilbert is one of 50 rising seniors selected to attend the Henry Clay High School Student Congress at the University of Kentucky this summer. (Contributed)

“I was so excited when I found out that I was accepted into the program,” Gilbert said. “I hope to gain a greater understanding of the differing points of view of high school students like myself. I also hope that I can develop skills that will help me work with others to solve the problems we face today and in the future.”

Gilbert said she first learned about Henry Clay in her AP United States History class last year.

“I really liked that Henry Clay believed in the power of compromise and conversation to solve our problems,” she said. “I applied because I wanted the chance to have the important conversations about today’s issues with other students from around the country.”

Gilbert was familiar with the program from when her brother, Sam Reece, attended as a junior at the University of Alabama.

In addition to a letter of recommendation from her history teacher, Gilbert was required to complete an application and answer questions, including one about her opinion on the greatest conflict the nation will face in the next 25 years and how compromise and consensus building will help solve the conflict.

“I argued that systemic prejudice and social injustice are the biggest problems we face,” Gilbert said.

Along with an intensive curriculum, the program will allow students to engage with lawmakers, local officials, community leaders and others to study the challenges of leadership and public policy.

Students also participate in team-building, leadership and social activities designed to foster friendship. Past activities have included trips to Henry Clay’s Ashland Estate, the Kentucky Horse Park, the Kentucky State Capitol and the national headquarters of the Council of State Governments.

Gilbert serves as Montevallo’s Junior Mayor, a position on the Montevallo Junior City Council, which is a group of middle and high school students dedicated to strengthening youth by improving the arts, athletics and school curriculum through community outreach.

“My membership with the Montevallo Junior City Council has helped me prepare for this program,” Gilbert said. “Being a part of the MJCC has taught me a lot about compromise and communication and why it is so important. I am planning on reading a biography of Henry Clay before the program starts so that I can have an even greater understanding of his values and ideas.”

To learn more about the Henry Clay High School Student Congress, visit