Eichelberger's Third Annual William Penn Leadership Program
Thursday, May 7, 2009, Sen. John H. Eichelberger Jr. hosted his third annual William Penn Leadership Program at Penn State Altoona.
About 139 select 11th-grade students from 22 high schools in Bedford, Blair, Fulton and Huntingdon counties participated in interactive sessions covering politics and the Pennsylvania legislative process. The students debated and strategized with their peers after weeks of preparation. During the "Fire Away" session, students presented their arguments with enthusiasm and passion. Senator Eichelberger's William Penn Leadership Program is nonpartisan and is designed to allow students to experience government up-close, going beyond a textbook. This year, students researched and debated Senate Bill 1250 - a joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution that marriage is defined as being between one man and one woman and Senate Bill 1357 - a bill which adds tax provisions to tobacco products. Both of these bills were introduced in the 2007-2008 Legislative Session but were not passed.
"I am proud of these students. It was very evident that they assumed their roles with much preparation. I hope that this experience leaves a lasting impression on them and that it sparks a desire to become active in the political process as voting citizens. Who knows, there may be a future elected official among them," Senator Eichelberger says.
This year's program included "Coffee and Conversation with the Senator - Teachers Only," an opportunity for teachers and advisors to discuss important education issues with Senator Eichelberger. Students heard from state Sen. John Wozniak (D-35th District), who was the luncheon speaker. They also learned about political strategy through technology in the "Tweeting" session by Jeff Coleman and Corey Graham from Churchill Strategies.
"The William Penn Leadership Program is a live classroom where students can respectfully debate their positions and discover how challenging it is to pass a bill. The goal is to encourage a passion for good government and an interest in the process." Senator Eichelberger says.
The 2009 William Penn Leadership Program is underwritten by the following sponsors: Penn State Altoona, AT&T, Mead- WestVaco Corp., Sheetz Inc., Del- Grosso Foods Inc., Penelec, Altoona First Savings Bank, H. Barefoot Trucking Inc., and Ritchey's Dairy Inc.