Davis & Elkins hosts awards ceremony

ELKINS – Two Davis & Elkins College students, Jonathan McGee, of Elkins, and Carla Deem, of Fayetteville, received recognition as Most Valuable Senators during the Citizens Symposium Awards Ceremony Thursday.

First-year students at Davis & Elkins College spent time learning about local, state and national government during the symposium. Several outstanding participants in the program received awards for their work Thursday evening at Harper McNeely Auditorium on the D&E campus.

McGee said he is a non-traditional student at the college, and was formerly in the military. He said he has always tried to keep up with politics. McGee serves as the president of the D&E Student Veterans Association.

“For me personally, the symposium was a great idea,” McGee said. “I am excited about getting the young people involved and understanding the legislative process. We learned what it takes to get a bill passed. I actually learned about the differences in Democrats and Republicans, and the party politics and what it takes to pass legislation. I think for the most part, everyone has learned a lot over the past three weeks.”

Dr. Joseph Roidt, vice president for Academic Affairs, said the symposium was a three-week immersion experience focused on democracy.

“The reason we developed the program is a couple of years ago, a report sponsored by the United States Department of Education expressed concern about young people’s level of civic knowledge and engagement,” Roidt said.

“This is our response to that call.”

Roidt said the symposium was divided into three week-long sections.

“The first week is focused on knowledge of democracy,” Roidt said. “Their project the first week was to create a poster on democracy, or some theme or issue related to democracy. In the second week, student teams are brought together in simulated legislative committees. They wrote legislation which they tried to get passed in their committees.”

Roidt said the third week was used to get students to think about how they will carry the things they have learned forward, and the group traveled to Washington, D.C. He said a total of 185 students participated in the symposium.

Dr. Michael Mihalyo, president of D&E, said after speaking with participants, he feels they now know more about democracy than they did before they started the course.

“I want to thank those who helped make the First-Year Symposium possible,” Mihalyo said.

“This required thousands of people hours of preparation and execution.”

Mihalyo thanked everyone for their participation.

“I look forward to the slide show and learning what everyone did,” Mihalyo said. “Congratulations to the award recipients.”

The individual award winners were strongest poster presenters, Elizabeth Estes and Cameron Riveria; best display of critical thinking in writing in week two, Sabrina Poessel and Luke Carpenter; best overall directed writing assignments, Holden Easterbrook and Olivia Hudok; best practice of oral communication, Ty Montemoino and Justin Carr; outstanding committee chair, Jacob Henry; the Henry Clay Award, Wes Hendrix and Malik Terry Wiggins; and the Devil’s Advocate Award, Samuel McDaniels and Forrest Williamson.

Awards for best party representatives went to: Constitutionalist, Jacob Currence; Republican, Matthew Zorn; Democrat, Katie Harris and Chris Swank; and Green Party, Alyssa Richmond.

The award for best Tweets went to Colton Allen, while the outstanding participation award winners were Nick Akins, Alexandra Miller, Natalie Green and Trey Furby.