The CVMD hosts the 1st Annual Student Leadership Program (ACT)

The students participated in various leadership and team building exercises. (Photo provided by CVMD)
The students participated in various leadership and team building exercises. (Photo provided by CVMD)
The students participated in various leadership and team building exercises. (Photo provided by CVMD)

During the first week of August the Clovis Veterans Memorial District hosted its first annual American Citizens’ Toolkit (ACT) student leadership program.

Area high school students participating in this program learned the value of teamwork and immersed themselves deeply in the United States Constitution. The goal of this program was to help students become more aware of their civic duties while becoming knowledgeable citizens.

Throughout the week, students participated in various leadership and team-building exercises, and immersed themselves in a curriculum about the US Constitution and its components.

“This was designed to be a leadership program because we realize that what we are asking students to do is exercise their voice and really provide respite from this tense situation, giving insight into the fact everyone has a lot of opportunities,” Lorenzo said. Rios, CEO of the Clovis Veterans Memorial District.

Local Veterans served as mentors and provided assistance to students throughout the week. These veterans made presentations about the organizations they represent and spoke to students about scholarship opportunities.

“Those who benefit from those who have protected these freedoms should do something to sacrifice that 1% of material. And the ultimate thing to do is to make sure that you live a life well lived, where you chase your dreams and remember your responsibility to uphold and defend the Constitution,” Rios said.

The first day aimed to help students discover their fears and overcome them. It comes from the idea that as leaders they must overcome their fear of being challenged by those with opposing ideas.

The next two days were a mix of interactive engagement and team building.

On the fourth day, students engaged in case studies where they analyzed Supreme Court cases. Students learned the facts of the cases and studied both sides of the argument. They then had the chance to debate on both sides.

On the final day, students identified current issues and then brainstormed ways to take action as young citizens. Students were then challenged to look to the future and determine what they want to address within their campuses and communities.

The curriculum of the program has been designed to equip students for active engagement, with an understanding of the constitutional principles that underlie United States government and are necessary for interpreting modern political issues.

“Ultimately, we want to see informed citizens who are engaged in their government systems and using their voice. There are a lot of opportunities, and we want to encourage them to do something with those freedoms,” Rios said.

As part of the program, each student was educated on the history of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Students learned about the six principles of the US Constitution: limited government, republicanism, checks and balances, federalism, separation of powers, and popular sovereignty.

The program was established to create an environment that keeps everyone’s energies focused on the material and to present the material in a way that allows for individual interpretation. This encouraged each student to apply their own cultural norms and values ​​to the material so that they could come to their own understanding and apply that knowledge to their lives.

The dialogues that took place during the week were used to encourage students to assess why the context and history of the US Constitution is important to them.

“This action made them, the students, realize that they can respectfully disagree with others, but they are not victims. They are very capable officers who can step forward and speak out through certain protections established in the Constitution,” Rios said.

At the end of the week, the students attended a graduation ceremony where they were honored for their dedication and completion of the program.

“I was inspired to have the opportunity to work with other veterans here; where we all work together to create an environment where students can ask tough questions and grow personally and professionally, and see how they interpret things,” Rios said.

The Clovis Veterans Memorial District hopes to continue this program so that more students have the opportunity to learn the history of United States government and become knowledgeable citizens.

You can watch a recap of the week’s events on the Clovis Veterans Memorial District Youtube channel.

Kevin E. Boling