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Musician Michael Newman, beauty pageant winner Christiana Lowe (Miss Utah) and retired NBA player Paul Grant each shared their AIPAC stories.
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Participants at AIPAC’s sixth annual Schusterman Advocacy Institute High School Summit learn about political activism before they are old enough to vote.

Over 500 Attend AIPAC High School Summit

More than 500 teenagers, facilitators and advisors from 131 high schools across the country gathered in Washington, D.C., on October 3-5 for AIPAC's sixth annual Schusterman Advocacy Institute High School Summit. Each year, this three-day seminar hosts pro-Israel high school students and education professionals, underscoring the importance of political involvement to maintaining a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.

“I learned so much more than I thought possible,” one participant said of her experience at the conference. “The Summit helped me clarify my goals as a pro-Israel activist and introduced me to essential elements of effective leadership. Most importantly, it taught me how to advocate for Israel’s partnership with the United States.”

An advisor from Temple Sholom in Greenwich, CT, discussed his group’s “eye-opening” experience in Washington, saying his students “came back excited and passionate” about plans to organize events and lobbying initiatives after the Summit.

“My students returned from their sessions energized and eager to do more in support of Israel and its partnership with the United States,” added an advisor from Congregation Beth Shalom in Atlanta, Georgia. “Both the students and I had a life-altering and amazing experience.”

Student delegates for the Summit were selected from thousands of eligible high school activists. This year, AIPAC partnered with 41 distinct institutions, including 22 Jewish Day Schools, nine synagogues, and five youth groups and teen leadership organizations such as USY, NCSY and Write On for Israel. BBYO, which has sent large delegations to previous High School Summits, brought 95 participants this year.

“It was truly inspiring to be with over 500 Americans who care deeply about sustaining the U.S.-Israel relationship,” one education professional said. “As a teacher, I can attest to the Summit’s meaningful impact on my students. It was a fantastic opportunity to learn from AIPAC’s staff and receive training in effective political advocacy.”

For the first time ever, this year’s High School Summit hosted forty Campus Peer Facilitators, an elite group of AIPAC-trained college activists who mentored High School Summit participants. Campus Peer Facilitators also staffed AIPAC’s first-ever Open Source Campus Landscape Fair, an event showcasing pro-Israel activism on college campuses across the country.

In a series of breakout sessions, participants focused on AIPAC’s legislative objectives and techniques for lobbying Congress year round. Participants also selected from a variety of advocacy skills workshops on subjects such as public speaking, advocacy writing and fundraising.

Summit participants also heard from retired NBA player Paul Grant, musician Michael Newman and pageant winner Christiana Lowe, who was recently crowned Miss Utah and will compete in the Miss America Pageant this winter.

These guest speakers explained why they support the U.S.-Israel relationship and described the profound impact of their involvement with AIPAC. Grant shared stories about his visit to Israel with AIPAC’s charitable foundation last month, recalling experiences that illustrated the Jewish state’s strong commitment to peace, equality and human rights.

Newman and Lowe, college students who have received intensive political advocacy training from AIPAC, told participants about their work to support the U.S.-Israel relationship through political activism on campus.

Finally, on the third day of the Summit, students and professionals visited Congressional offices to discuss issues affecting the U.S.-Israel alliance. During their Capitol Hill meetings, Summit participants urged lawmakers to oppose Iran’s nuclear ambitions and support the continuation of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

After the High School Summit, BBYO rolled out its new Speak Up! initiative, a national program inspired by AIPAC’s America’s Top Advocates competition launched earlier this year. Throughout the month-long BBYO competition, participants will be judged on their ability to make the strongest possible case for the U.S.-Israel relationship. AIPAC will award BBYO’s five national winners with all-expense-paid trips to AIPAC’s 2011 Policy Conference. BACK TO TOP