2010-10-28 / Education

RHS student attends D.C. leadership forum

Brandon Shirshun in front of the Lincoln Monument in Washington, D.C. Brandon Shirshun in front of the Lincoln Monument in Washington, D.C. Diplomacy triumphed over militarism for Roscommon High School junior Brandon Shirshun and about 250 other students who participated in the National Youth Leadership Forum on National Security in Washington, D.C.

Nominated by his RHS English teacher, Rebecca Sova, Shirshun attended the forum Sept. 28-Oct. 3 with students from across the United States. The theme for the week was “Exploring American Diplomacy, Intelligence and Defense,” designed to introduce students to careers in national security, intelligence and the diplomatic corps.

The curriculum is based on actual world events, in this case a potential nuclear attack by North Korea. Throughout the program, students used critical thinking, leadership and public speaking skills to tackle the complexity of national decision-making as they examined how the U.S. plans for peace and prepares for crisis.

Brandon Shirshun Brandon Shirshun Question-and-answer sessions with internationally recognized civilian policy makers and senior military personnel are part of the forum.

On the first day, Shirshun met with his 25-member National Security Action Meeting group for the first time. The group, led by a faculty advisor, provided the students with new colleagues with whom they would work throughout the forum. Each group received an introduction to the forum objectives and created a group code of conduct.

The second day consisted of one of four national security strategy exercises designed to prepare participants for the final simulation of the week. Each scholar took a role in fictional nuclear weapons crisis and considered the four vectors of strategic analysis: basic national interests intensity of those interests, instruments of national power and execution of a national strategy. In the afternoon, Shirshun visited the U.S. Capitol, the Library of Congress, the House and Senate office buildings and the Supreme Court. The day concluded with one of three career exploration panels featuring leaders from the defense, intelligence and diplomatic communities and a panel featuring experts on Northeast Asia.

On the third day, Shirshun visited the Defense Intelligence Agency Building at Bollers Air Force Base and the National Naval Museum. Students also attended two current issues seminars, headed by leaders in the national security field.

Final preparations for the simulation took place on Day 4. Students visited the Korean War Veterans, Vietnam Veterans, Lincoln and Vietnam Women’s Memorials.

The simulation wrapped up the forum, as eight student groups searched for a way to avoid a nuclear attack by North Korea. Shirshun played the role of the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

“Our group turned out to be the only group to solve the problem diplomatically,” Shirshun said.

Shirshun’s group obtained information on how to secure

the release of captives being held by North Korea and formed alliances with other countries against North Korea so “they would have to go along with us on our terms,” he said.

After the simulation, participants visited Arlington National Cemetery, all of the Smithsonian museums and the Franklin D. Roosevelt and Thomas Jefferson Memorials.

The forum has changed the direction of his career plans, Shirshun said.

He plans to continue taking accounting and business classes and attend Washington University in St. Louis, MO, known for its business program. But he added, “I’m probably going to take more government classes” with the goal of using his business skills in the governmental world. He hopes to take an apprenticeship with the CIA.

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