With 25 students set to graduate in November, the Littleton Leadership Academy is already seeking the next group to undergo its whirlwind course in civic administration. The academy, wrapping up its …
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With 25 students set to graduate in November, the Littleton Leadership Academy is already seeking the next group to undergo its whirlwind course in civic administration.
The academy, wrapping up its second year, puts students through a nine-month course on the workings of government: what different agencies do, and how they work together.
The group is accepting applications for the 30 seats in its 2019 session, said Susan Thornton, the academy's chair and a former Littleton mayor.
This year's students were given a tour of the Colorado Supreme Court by one of the court's justices, visited a wastewater treatment plant, talked economic vitality with the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce, visited Littleton Adventist Hospital and met with the Littleton Public Schools Board of Education, Thornton said.
“We want people to know how the city works, so they can go out and be better leaders,” Thornton said. “Littleton has great schools and parks and so forth, but it's easy to take all that for granted. These things didn't just happen. It took the vision of previous civic leaders.”
The academy's predecessor, the Littleton Community Retreat, was the petri dish for ideas like the establishment of the Town Hall Arts Center, and the effort to lower the grade of Littleton's railroad tracks that paved the way for light-rail service, Thornton said.
This year's class includes lawyers, accountants, Littleton Adventist hospital employees, and representatives of South Suburban Parks and Recreation District, Littleton Public Schools and several nonprofits, Thornton said.
The group will hold a graduation ceremony in November, Thornton said, where each student will present an “action plan” for how they hope to carry their new knowledge into the community.
Last year's academy saw two graduates, Karina Elrod and Kyle Schlachter, elected to city council.
The academy was a worthwhile precursor to being part of city leadership, Elrod said.
“It gave me an awareness of how everything fits together, from local to state government,” Elrod said. “It helped me understand the partnerships we rely on. How does RTD or the Colorado Department of Transportation fit into our plans, for example? It helps me know who I can reach out to for more information.”
Elrod was surprised, too, by how much she enjoyed networking with other students.
“The big eye-opener for me was meeting so many people locally in Littleton who are leaders in their own right,” Elrod said. “The true value of the program was discovering the richness and depth of the people in our community.”
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