“In my ten years of teaching, I have only come across a small handful of students with the leadership ability and passion to make a difference as Andrew.”
– Kimberly Davidson, Centennial HS social studies teacher
School: Centennial Senior High School
Where do we find our leaders of tomorrow? In our very own backyards, of course. Andrew J. LaValle of Lino Lakes—a senior at Centennial High School—couldn’t be a better example: he’s bright, he’s dedicated to change, he’s already had his toes in the political pond and what’s most comforting, he wants that water clean.
“Although we have made great strides in society, I still feel that corruption and inequality are still too prevalent in the world. It is how we as a people have gotten to where we are and it will shape where we go. It affects all of us and so we all have an invested interest in it. That’s why I believe political apathy among young people is so dangerous.”
Andrew, of course, doesn’t fall into that apathetic group. In fact, he’s as proactive as they come.
“Andrew’s passion for politics and current events set him apart from his peers. He has outstanding thinking skills and an ability to objectively analyze any issue,” says Kimberly Davidson, a Centennial social studies teacher. “Andrew is also very empathetic and open-minded when discussing issues. In my ten years of teaching, I have only come across a small handful of students with the leadership ability and passion to make a difference as Andrew.”
These leadership qualities and his political passion earned Andrew a position as a Page at the Minnesota State Capitol last spring. He acted as an assistant to representatives and says it’s his greatest high school memory to date.
“I learned an incredible amount about the state government and got to see all the behind-the-scenes action. I loved it. I met and chatted with representatives and got to hang out on the house floor… it was an amazing time.”
Andrew also is editor of the Centennial school newspaper, Inscriptions. During his senior year he plans to develop the newspaper, which he says gets little support from the administration.
“A newspaper is one of those crucial parts of a school that is vital to its identity and reputation. Every school should have one and I think ours deserves more attention than it currently gets.”
Andrew also brings attention to the environment. He’s an active member of the Sierra Club, the Sierra Club Student Coalition, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the League of Conservation Voters. He calls himself an ‘ardent environmentalist.’
“America has been given an incredible gift with our natural resources… As we develop as a country we have to take the environment into account in every decision we make.”
As if Andrew isn’t busy enough, he also participates in the Youth In Government Model UN Program, is an active volunteer for political candidates on both a local and national level and has ran his own political website and blog. Rounding out his political and environmental pursuits are interests in painting and listening to such musical favorites as Bob Dylan and Sonic Youth, among others.
“Andrew is such a nice student to have in class. He is very active in discussions and takes a lot of pride in being active politically,” says his social studies teacher, Shaun Cooper. “I get the sense from Andrew that he wants to do what he can to make a difference in our society, while other students are content with the status quo.”
Andrew may become a public political figure one day, but in the meantime, he’s considering more pressing decisions: his post graduation plans. The University of Minnesota, Hamline and St. Olaf are in the running and he will likely major in political science or history and minor in mass communications. He’d like to get even more involved in government, work on political campaigns, and lastly, Andrew adds he’s particularly fond of international relations. Will he have room for it all? Only time will tell… and perhaps a future ballot box, with his name on it.