Seventeen high-school juniors from EPISD were selected by the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce to participate in an innovative program aimed at grooming potential city leaders for the future.
The students are part of Junior Leadership El Paso, a year-long program that brings about 40 juniors together each year to learn more about the region’s history, challenges, hot topics and opportunities.
The students meet monthly with leaders, visit key community agencies and participate in learning activities. Participants must also come together to put together a group project whose goal is to improve one aspect of the community.
“I think this program is a really great opportunity for students to get a look at what’s going on in the community,” El Paso High student Rada Koile said. “It’s really interactive so we learn to cooperate with each other and figure out what our roles in the community are.”
The monthly sessions include topics like healthcare, education, law and justice, policy and politics, arts and culture, and the military.
During the most recent session, the students participated in a Simulated Society exercise where they were randomly divided into four different groups with different socioeconomic backgrounds. Each group had to figure out how to survive and thrive with their assigned resources.
“It has been a good experience working with other schools throughout El Paso,” Coronado High student Samantha Diwa said. “We all have different opinions, but we all have so much to offer when we work together.”
The students showed how well they cooperated when they participated in the simulation, bridging societal boundaries to help each other and make sure the less affluent groups survived.
Junior Leadership El Paso stemmed from the chamber’s Leadership El Paso program which helps to cultivate the city’s next generation of leaders.
Organizers select students based on their academic standing and their history of leadership at their respective campuses and community organizations.
This year’s class includes the following EPISD students:
• Yamileth Contreras, Andress High
• Arissiney Groomes, Andress High
• Sophia Morales, Bowie High
• Veronica Rodriguez, Bowie High
• Annessa Ann Hernandez, Burges High
• Emily Dayoub, Coronado High
• Samantha Diwa, Coronado High
• Sudhanva Purushotham, Coronado High
• Rada Koile, El Paso High
• Emma Lasley, El Paso High
• Brandon Piel, El Paso High
• Tamar Terell, El Paso High
• Alejandro Alcazar, Franklin High
• Karina Damian, Silva Health Magnet
• Norma Valenzuela, Silva Health Magnet
• Amanda Alfsen, Transmountain Early College
• Victoria Ereng, Transmountain Early College
The students will graduate from the program in May after completing all monthly sessions and finishing the community service project.