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Student-Led Retreat Helps Define One Government Track

April 13th, 2010

By Sarah Pride

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 441-8722
OfficeOfCommunications@phc.edu

Government: American Politics and Policy majors on retreat

When students think of the Government: Strategic Intelligence (SI) track, they imagine covert operations and super-secret data analysis. For Government: International Politics & Policy (IPP), they conjure up thoughts of diplomacy and exotic travel. And then, of course, all PHC students know that Government: Political Theory majors engage the wide world of thought. Yet Government: American Politics & Policy (APP) majors, despite equally promising opportunities, have sensed a need to define their “brand” among their illustrious cousins.

“Lots of people here at PHC should be APP, but they don’t know it,” says APP sophomore Dana Blauvelt.

So the week before spring break, a few dozen Government: American Politics & Policy (APP) majors gathered at the Bear’s Den Trail Center on the Appalachian Trail for a weekend getaway. Blauvelt, with the help of junior Shannon Healy and senior Stephanie Monk, organized this retreat in order to help APP students refine the image of their scholastic track.

“What we want first is for people who mark themselves as APP to understand what that means,” says Blauvelt. “The purpose is not to ‘sell’ it as much as describe it.”

At PHC, students must declare a major by the end of their sophomore year. Most still choose to major in Government, but inside that they have a variety of options, or “tracks,” which influence the upper-level classes they take and the kinds of internships they work. They can specialize in International Politics & Policy (IPP), Political Theory, Strategic Intelligence (SI), or APP.

“[APP] is the major for people interested in law, small government, or any kind of organizational leadership,” Blauvelt explains. “It’s also for people who just want to become the best American citizens they can be, no matter what they end up doing.”

APP students in the cozy Bear's Den Trail Center receive special leadership instruction

In general, APP students distilled four distinctives over their weekend getaway: APP majors learn American heritage and original intent; analyze the current state of affairs; gain real-world experience through internships; and work to restore conservative principles in the political community. They also planned several campus projects for APP majors, including a peer-reviewed journal called the George Wythe Review, a website, and a database system that will maintain useful campaign information for conservative politicians.

Blauvelt, who has attended the Youth Leadership School with the Leadership Institute, also invited the Institute to present a seminar at the retreat. On Saturday, representatives visited the lodge and gave a two-part class. APP students cooked fajitas for everyone, and they all sat down together over lunch.

“We asked them to start at a deeper level than they do with most college students, since we’ve already had some leadership training,” Blauvelt says.

Already, the first issue of the George Wythe Review has landed in the hands of PHC students the week before spring break. Dr. Michael Haynes, PHC Assistant Professor of Government, reports that the campaign database is also underway. An ambitious project, APP students expect to begin with Loudoun County, gathering data on each district over the course of a year.

“The APP students are excited to be organized and advancing,” reports Haynes, who oversaw the student-led retreat. Referring to the progress made during the weekend, he proudly notes that “they did a very good job.”

“We have brilliant people in the APP track with amazing ideas, who didn’t know everyone else was seeing the same things,” Blauvelt enthuses. “Every person was interested in at least one project.”

APP majors will keep the campus posted as their plans for development continue.