By Mary Elizabeth Dial, Staff Correspondent
Lesley Cox was one of 92 students to attend Alabama Governor’s School, or AGS, in June. The senior at Southside High School was the only student to represent Etowah County in the 13-day series of seminars and activities held at Samford University.
Participants in the program were chosen from high schools across Alabama on the basis of “academic ability, leadership qualities, creativity, community service and written essays,” according to Cox. Over the course of their two weeks at AGS, the students attended seminars on various subjects that they chose based on their own interests and future plans. Cox attended a legal seminar in the mornings, where she learned about the legal system from certified attorneys and judges, and even won the mock trial case that was the seminar’s final exercise. In the afternoons, she participated in a sports medicine class, balancing her mental work with sports and exercise. She and her classmates also participated in wheelchair sports, which Cox said gave her a new outlook on how the lives of others differed from her own. But the greatest benefit Cox took from her AGS experience was the new network of students and instructors she found.
“I made 91 new friends in just the first couple of hours,” said Cox. Social activities and service projects, she explained, were as important at AGS as the tasks meant to grow students’ minds. Outside of seminars, students completed community service projects like cleaning up the community of Woodlawn. They also had some plenty of time to get to know each other, both in their free time on the university campus and through organized events like skits and AGS Olympics.
AGS “was an amazing experience that has not only changed my life, but has helped me in defining my future as a leader,” said Cox. She returned to Southside High School at the start of the new semester to put the lessons she learned into practice as a senior, and plans to study political science and German at American University in Washington, D.C. Her ultimate goal is to go into international law.
“The people [at AGS] influenced me the most,” Cox said, and “made me realize my potential.” She and her fellow Alabama Governor’s School participants will now go out into the world and use their new knowledge to make the world a better place.