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Civic Engagement Advisory Board Students Travel to D.C. for Retreat

Mercersburg Academy students who are part of the Civic Engagement Advisory Board recently traveled to Washington, D.C., for a retreat as part of their work with the school’s Civic Engagement Task Force. They were encouraged to consider the privileges and responsibilities of citizenship in the United States as a model for discussing citizenship more broadly. 

Students visited the National Mall, National Archives Museum, the Capitol building, and other sites and contemplated messages conveyed by the city’s monuments, memorials, and art. They also met and dined with Mercersburg alumni working in the city to hear firsthand about the struggles, successes, and compromises involved in making democracy work.

The experience was designed to help students consider the implications of citizenship in the Mercersburg community as they begin committee work with peers this year, noted faculty members Allison Stephens, P ’11, ’13, task force chair, and Nicole Brown, project manager.

To prepare for the trip and their work with the task force, students read The Bill of Obligations: The Ten Habits of Good Citizens by Richard Haass over the summer. During the first evening of the trip, the group discussed the responsibilities of individuals in upholding democracy. 

Advisory Board members also received training in how to lead student discussions that focus on listening and understanding rather than on winning. 

To be selected for the advisory board, students submitted an application and were asked to reflect on the words “civic engagement” and “community” and how they saw those ideas motivating and inspiring them. 

“We sought to create a group that would represent multiple and varied elements of our student community, so that the representatives can collect the input of the greatest number of students,” Stephens said, noting that the students range in age and life experience.

The applications were reviewed by adult task force members who noted that the selection process was difficult because there were a significant number of strong applicants. 

“We were really excited about the student energy expressed in the applications,” Brown said. “Ultimately, we narrowed the list down to a group of 11 students.”

Students on the Civic Engagement Advisory Board are Dawson Graditor ’26, Emily Jiang ’24, Collin Jin ’25, Corbin Kelly ’24, Mikahel Martínez-Arocho ’25, Wyatt Parks ’25, Luntu Radebe ’25, Eliana Sandy ’24, Ruby Shang ’24, Dylan Stiffler ’24, and Thomas Zhu ’25.