An American" essay contest.
The essay contest and conference were sponsored by the Freedoms
Foundations at Valley Forge, a nonprofit organization that provides
educational programs on subjects like American history,
constitutional rights and citizens' responsibilities, core values and
the private enterprise system.
"I kept thinking how lucky we are to be in America," said Dorene,
an 11th-grader at Glendale High. "It made us realize that even though
things are really bad right now, we still have hope. If we can get
through [our country's independence] we can make it through this,
Students participated in a variety of teambuilding and leadership
games and activities while learning about the harsh winter of
1777-78, when American troops set up camp at Valley Forge. Students
participated in a "mock Congress" activity, attended a Freedom Summit
and studied bills while in Philadelphia. They visited landmarks like
Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, the first and second banks of
the United States and Benjamin Franklin's house. They also made sure
to sample authentic "Philly" cheese-steak sandwiches.
"It's cool to learn about this stuff in class and read about it,
but to be standing there, right in front of some of these buildings
is something entirely different," said Sona Markaryan, an 11th-grader
at the school.
History teacher Nancy Witt said students who attend the annual
leadership conference always come back a changed group.
"They come back viewing history in a whole new light," Witt said.
"It leaves them with a new maturity and they tend to become more
serious about studying history."