By Henley Y.L.I. Club Members
“Tom Perriello inspired us all and has a captivating personality,” said one 6th grader about U.S. House Representative Tom Perriello’s remarks to the entire J.T. Henley Middle School student body on Tuesday, November 24. Congressman Perriello not only imparted wisdom about surviving middle school, but he also spoke about his experience as a student at Henley. His message is encouraging and clear: students gain a lot from being involved in school activities and working hard to make a difference in their community.
One of the major components of Perriello’s speech was about the benefits of volunteering personal time to help others. For example, he shared stories about how he used to visit elderly people in Crozet, and how he used to work on construction projects that helped disadvantaged families. “Mr. Perriello made me want to achieve more while at Henley,” said one 8th grader. Students also learned that middle school really hasn’t changed that much since he attended: several of Mr. Perriello’s teachers are still teaching here! Sixth grade science teacher Mrs. Stokes said that his words were “interesting, because he made connections with school and students.” Several students felt as though Mr. Perriello gave helpful advice on how to make these years count, and it helped to know that things weren’t always easy and he had to work hard, too.
Getting a visit from a sitting congressman encouraged all students at Henley. “Since the pep rally, I’ve wanted to become more involved in activities at our school,” commented one 7th grader. Our principal, Dr. Patrick McLaughlin, also thought that the pep rally was a good experience for his students. “I think that students were able to see how a former Henley student’s first experience with community service led him to a lifetime of service to his community and country.”
The Henley Y.L.I. Club sponsors a school-wide student mock election every year and meets throughout the year to learn more about civics and how American government works.