Sossaman student attended Camp O'Connor - AZEdNews
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Sossaman student attended Camp O’Connor

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Sossaman Middle School Student Caroline Simpson Attended The Inaugural O’Connor Leadership Camp This Summer In Phoenix. Photo Courtesy Higley Unified School District

Sossaman Middle School seventh-grader Caroline Simpson was one of only 48 students nationwide selected to attend the inaugural Camp O’Connor in Phoenix from June 5 to 9.

Created by the Sandra Day O’Connor Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to solving high-impact issues through civil discussion and civic action, the tuition-free camp helps seventh and eighth graders understand civics and develop leadership skills.

While living at ASU Downtown, students will visit the Arizona State Capitol and Sandra Day O’Connor U.S. Courthouse, and learn from the university’s law professors and students.

The camp ensures that its graduates leave as role models in their schools and communities. This opportunity to grow as a leader is something that Simpson is excited for, as she hopes to better understand her peers’ diverse opinions and the different challenges they face.

At Camp O’Connor, Simpson will be surrounded by students who — much like her — love to lead and learn about historical civic leaders, like the camp’s namesake, former U.S. Supreme Court justice.

Simpson said she loves social studies because she gets to learn about leaders who have helped others. She also recognizes the importance of learning about current events and learning about American government.

“If you understand government when you’re older and there are elections going on, you can understand what’s really happening and not just listen to the news,” Simpson said. “They all have their own opinions, so you can form your own.”

Simpson’s leadership potential is already clear at Sossaman. She is a highly involved member of student council, where which she organized the eighth-grade formal and plans to run for student body president. She runs in track and cross country. She also supports students in special education through Spartan Buddies, a program that pairs students with special needs with their typical peers to build bonds and friendships.

“Caroline has taken on many leadership roles on this campus as a 7th grader.  I cannot wait to see what she does next year,“ Principal John Dolan said.

This year, Simpson’s leadership allowed her to be one of eight students on the Principal Leadership Council, through which she openly discussed her opinions on the strengths and weaknesses of Sossaman and district. Voicing her opinions for change is something Simpson has done since she was in fifth grade, when she gave a speech at a school board meeting to express the need to learn typing skills in school.

“If I give my opinion, it helps me have a better experience and helps other kids have better experiences, too,” Simpson said.

Simpson is already thinking big for the future. With Camp O’Connor, she said she hopes expand her community involvement and impact beyond student council.

“I know there’s more stuff to do than just student council by just helping people,” Simpson said. “It will help me to know how to help people.”

Sossaman Middle School is located in Queen Creek, Ariz., and is part of the Higley Unified School District.