Going to the beach. Working a job. Hanging out with friends. Maybe doing the summer reading and summer assignments when it comes time to do it. Such is the summer experience of many high school students. How about soaking in the sense of grandeur when visiting a humongous, bustling aircraft carrier or feeling the rush of excitement when one is in the center of a container port full of activity? Perhaps one would prefer absorbing the moment when you step onto a fresh-cut baseball field surrounded only by giant electronic screens and even bigger grandstands or tingling with the sense of importance after meeting with esteemed members of a local city council. Better yet, how about the charge of enthusiasm one can get from getting a backstage tour of a major local venue on the day of a concert? These were just some of the experiences shared by 30 high school students from August 8-12 who went through the annual eXcel program presented by LEAD Hampton Roads.
The eXcel program is an educational leadership program targeted at high school students that develops various leadership styles and communication skills while exposing them to unique opportunities that Hampton Roads has to offer through real-life exposure. Modeled after the LEAD Hampton Roads program, eXcel teaches participants how to make effective decisions, resolve conflicts, gather support from others, and in turn, promote leadership in one’s self and in others. Additionally, the program promotes face-to-face dialogue between students and the region’s distinguished business, military, healthcare, and civic leaders. These young leaders gain invaluable insight from those with real life experiences in their field. Lastly, students celebrate the spirit of giving back to the community through a local community service project that is sure to leave an impact in the Hampton Roads community. By the end of the program, instructors encourage students to utilize what they have learned in the program and apply it to become leaders within their own communities. Even after their class experience comes to an end, eXcel keeps alumni involved by fostering the opportunities for networking with other students as well as the established leaders they have met.
This year’s class encountered leaders and representatives from the U.S. Navy, Port of Virginia, Lifenet, JoKell, the Norfolk Tides, Signature Financial, the Virginia Aquarium, the nTelos Wireless Pavilion, and the Cities of Chesapeake, Norfolk and Suffolk.
Additionally, the eXcel Class of 2011 performed volunteer work with staff from the Hoffler Creek Wildlife Refuge, Nansemond River Preservation Alliance, and the City of Suffolk.
After an intense five days of leadership training, networking, and traveling to experience just some of the rich resources Hampton Roads has to offer, these eXcel graduates have nothing but high expectations for themselves in the future.