A New Generation of Leaders
The primary mission of Longwood College is to develop "citizen leaders who are prepared to make positive contributions to the common good of society." That goal was abundantly clear recently during Citizen Leader Day as students rallied in support of the victims, survivors, and families who suffered from the September 11 terrorist attacks on America.
Originally, the focus of Citizen Leader Day was to participate in the national Coastal Cleanup Day, according to Sarah Schoper, Assistant Director of Leadership Programs and Commuter Affairs. "We were planning a program that would include a presentation by Katie Register, Executive Director of Clean Virginia Waterways, followed by a clean-up operation on the Appomattox River ... but Tuesday changed all of that."
After the devastating terrorist attacks on New York City and the Pentagon, Schoper and her student leaders decided to refocus the efforts of Citizen Leader Day. "This was a unanimous and cooperative decision our students felt the need to do something to help," said Schoper.
On the Friday night following the attacks, over 1000 students gathered in front of the Lankford Student Union to participate in a candle light vigil. Students were encouraged to share their feelings about the recent events. Many read poems, but most spoke from the heart about how this tragedy had affected them. Following a stirring rendition of "Amazing Grace" by student Jessica Jones, the students began a slow candlelit progression around campus.
I joined our students on this walk of remembrance around campus and I was impressed by their sincerity and heartfelt sympathy. Although this generation has never faced the uncertainties and fears that earlier generations have, I believe they are up to the challenges ahead.
On Saturday morning, students made red/white/blue remembrance ribbons and sold them around town while other students visited local businesses to solicit donations for relief and recovery. All proceeds were sent to the American Red Cross and, according to Schoper, the students raised $4,455.62.
The Greatest Generation might be a tough act to follow, but these Longwood citizen leaders are off to a good start.