Saturday, July 23, 2011

Goodbye, SPS Class of 2011!

We say goodbye today to the 2011 class of the St. Albans School of Public Service. You came to St. Albans four weeks ago from fourteen states and three countries, and you left unified and inspired by each other. Last night at the 2011 Final Banquet, the 2011 class carried on the tradition of sharing with each other their thoughts and feelings about the program. You spoke with your usual eloquence, demonstrated over four weeks of case studies, classes, and simulations, and two common themes emerged. Some of you found your voices at SPS, and some of you felt like your greatest growth came through listening -- mainly to each other. Even as we will miss the SPS Class of 2011, we are excited and inspired in our turn by all that you have already achieved and with your potential to make that much more of a difference in the future. Goodbye, good luck, and keep in touch!

Friday, July 22, 2011

SPS 2011: Slideshow of Photos from Final Banquet

A slideshow of photos from our St. Albans School of Public Service Final Banquet in the St. Albans School Refectory. (Toasts made with sparkling cider!)

SPS 2011: Closing "Congressional" Debate

Throughout the session, the St. Albans School of Public Service Class of 2011 has taken on the role of "issue advocacy" Political Action Committees, or PACs, and pushed to get Congress to take up the legislation of each of the PACs' devising. Today, the SPS students have switched roles and are now debating the proposed bills as members of "Congress." So far the "SPS Congress" has passed an automatic weapons ban and voted to shore up Social Security by raising the retirement age, but voted down a proposed bill for offshore oil drilling. There is some focused and eloquent argument!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

SPS 2011: The View at Bedtime . . .

Tomorrow is the last full day of SPS, so it's time to turn in for the night after a long and productive day, week, and month at the St. Albans School of Public Service! We hope the members of the SPS class of 2011 are enjoying the nighttime view of the Cathedral for one of the last times during SPS 2011.
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SPS 2011: Slideshow of Photos from SPS Talent Show

SPS 2011: Tenth Annual SPS Talent Show Under Way!

We've only seen a few acts so far, but the talents are DEFINITELY in evidence! We've got singers, dancers, musicians, comedians, and even a mathematician (really!).

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

SPS 2011: Mock Political Action Committees Hold "Press Conferences" on Proposed Legislation

Throughout the 2011 session of the St. Albans School of Public Service, the students have worked outside of class on a group project focusing on political advocacy. The class was divided into six smaller groups, and each was assigned a broad policy area and asked to form a Political Action Committee (PAC); draft a piece of legislation within their policy area; secure "Congressional" sponsors (really the SPS faculty and staff) for their bills; draft a press release publicizing their views; hold a press conference fielding question from the skeptical press (their classmates); and, finally, take part in a full legislative debate on the bills. As we lead up to the final legislative debate the six SPS PACs (addressing issues having to do with, respectively, energy; immigration; firearms ownership; social security; health care; and litigation reform) have been holding their press conferences. As each PAC presented its proposal, their classmates played the role of the press -- there were some tough questions! See the slideshow below for more photos:

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

SPS 2011: Slideshow of Photos from Sunset Parade

SPS 2011: Commandant's Own at the Sunset Parade

A brief video clip of the Commandant's Own, the U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, performing at the Sunset Parade tonight:

SPS 2011: U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon

Tonight the St. Albans School of Public Service class of 2011 enjoyed one of the great summer events Washington, D.C. has to offer: the weekly United States Marine Corps "Sunset Parade" at the Iwo Jima Memorial. After a performance by the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, known as the Commandant's Own (their rendition of the Star-Spangled banner is a highlight) we watched the precision drill of the truly amazing USMC Silent Drill Platoon. See the video below for a brief glimpse of the Silent Drill Platoon in action.

SPS 2011: U.S. Marine Corps Sunset Parade

Each Tuesday night throughout the summer, the U.S. Marine Corps holds its Sunset Parade at the Iwo Jima Memorial, featuring a performance by the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps and precision drill from the Silent Drill Platoon. The St. Albans School of Public Service is here now, enjoying one of DC's signature summer experiences.

SPS 2011: Slideshow of Photos from Congressional Simulation

(Click on any photo to go to the online photo album with downloadable photos)

SPS 2011: Video of Winning Campaign Team

The campaign team for "Congressman John Turner" celebrates re-election victory in the Congressional Simulation.

SPS 2011: "Election" Returns are in! Four "candidates" re-elected!

After a hard-fought campaign, four out of the six SPS Congressional "candidates" won their re-election campaigns. See photos below of the victorious teams (and one or two shots of disappointed campaigners . . .)

SPS 2011: SPS "Election" Update: All Six Candidates Survive Their Primaries!

Good news so far in the Congressional Simulation -- all six SPS "Congressional candidates" were victorious in their primary campaigns. But a few candidates just squeaked by, so the tension builds . . .

SPS 2011: The Early Approval Ratings are in for the SPS "Members of Congress"

In today's Congressional simulation, the ultimate goal will be to be re-elected. An early bellwether of the "SPS Members'" re-election chances are the approval ratings--they are computer generated after input of the various policy and strategy decisions made by each of the Congressional teams. See photos below as the teams wait to hear their approval ratings, and celebrate or commiserate.

SPS 2011: The Strategizing Begins!

The end goal of today's Congressional simulation is to get re-elected . . . but along the way there are lots of decisions: which candidate for Speaker to vote for? What Committees to join? What caucuses to join? The strategizing is intense, as the photos below demonstrate!

SPS 2011: SPS Runs Six Candidates for Congress! (sort of . . .)

This morning sees the St. Albans School of Public Service Class of 2011 spending some (simulated) time in Congress, culminating in primary and general elections. As part of the National Association of Manufacturers' Congressional Insight simulation, groups of six are collectively playing the parts of fictitious Republican and Democratic Congresspeople from real districts. In a mere three hours time (SPS hours are like dog years . . . a lot can happen!) each of our SPS Congresspeople has to face such tasks as applying for Committee Assignments, deciding whom to support in intra-party leadership battles, hiring a staff, voting on bills, sponsoring bills, raising money (and raising money, and raising money), and campaigning for re-election through direct mail, TV, radio or door-to-door canvassing. The teams have to work together under time pressure to make decisions that will get them re-elected, and along the way all are getting some additional insight into the trade-offs that actual Members of Congress face in trying to balance the demands of party, constituents, principle, and the desire for re-election. With every decision the SPS Congresspeople make, the computer program informs them whether their approval ratings have gone up or down, with the ultimate test being whether they will win the primary and then the general election. Check back for updates as the hour of decision nears! (Photos below: The SPS Members of Congress are "sworn in" . . . careful observers may note that they are raising their left hands!)

SPS 2011: Inaugural Ride on the New Bus!

The St. Albans School of Public Service class of 2011 are the first students to ride on the shiny new St. Albans School bus . . . Everybody looks happy to have air conditioning!

Monday, July 18, 2011

SPS 2011: This One is a Game-Changer, Folks!

Riding the big yellow school bus -- the "naturally air conditioned" yellow school bus, aka the UNAIRCONDITIONED big yellow school bus -- has always been a key element of the St. Albans School of Public Service. Who among us does not fondly remember the bonding experience of sitting in downtown D.C. traffic in business attire on a 100+ degree day coming back from the White House, Congress, the Supreme Court, [insert cool trip here]. But now there's a new player in SPS transportation . . . the sleek new St. Albans School ride. It's not yellow, but it is air conditioned. Will this change the SPS experience materially? Will future SPS classes not be quite as close, not having experienced the swelterfest of some of those bus rides? Good questions, good questions indeed. The jury is out . . . but we at SPS are willing to take the risk.
(Above photo: eat your heart out, John Madden, this is the new SPS ride!)
(Above photo: SPS intern Shawn and program assistant Maddie do their best Vanna White imitation in front of the sleek new vehicle.)