"Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man." 
-Mahatma Gandhi

    My name is Leah Kirssin. This is my fourth year as a Blue Ridge Virtual Governor's School student. I am a senior at William Monroe High School in Greene County, Virginia. I have a strong passion for gun violence prevention. Over the summer I attended a mission trip to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. During one of the days, I was educated on gun violence in the area and I helped take down a memorial for gun violence victims. Afterwards, I had the opportunity to hand out fliers for a rally that helped prevent a gun store, known for selling illegal guns, from reopening. I have chosen gun violence prevention and safety as my topic because I find it interesting and relevant. 

    My research question is, "What is the most effective way for citizens to influence gun laws?" I answered a majority of this question through my community service, internship, and research. I studied how individuals and groups of citizens can influence the law and create change. 

    For the internship portion of my senior project, I interned under Allison Liles. Allison is the executive director of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship. The Episcopal Peace Fellowship is known for its dedication and focus on ending gun violence and promoting safety. With Allison, I attended events, meetings, rallies, and lobbied around Virginia for gun violence prevention. This helped me build a stronger understanding of the topic and gave me an opportunity to learn how to teach others about the importance of gun violence prevention. 

    I completed the community service portion of this project with Allison as well. I helped Allison and others prepare, set up, and run events. I also had the opportunity to hand out free gun locks and inform the public of the importance of gun safety. In addition to my community service, I left my legacy by sending a letter to Senator Warner about gun violence prevention and what I have learned in an attempt to inform and encourage future safety precautions. Enclosed with the letter, I sent a petition with the signatures of registered voters to show my support and the support behind gun violence prevention in my area. 

Here is the slideshow for my final presentation, as well as a link to the video of me presenting:


*The background image is a picture from the Virginia Tech candlelight vigil held in remembrance of those killed by gun violence in Florida. 

Recent Journals

  • Final Reflection     This experience has been important to me because I care about the topic of gun violence prevention. I enjoy getting involved with politics and the community on issues I care ...
    Posted Apr 26, 2017, 9:39 PM by Leah Kirssin
  • My "Legacy"     I have made a decision on my legacy. I am writing a letter to Senator Warner. I am going to inform him about gun violence and history of gun violence ...
    Posted Mar 17, 2017, 10:54 AM by Leah Kirssin
  • “Five things your high school student should know about careers.” I agree with Allison Cheston in “Five things your high school student should know about careers.” I think that it is important to begin thinking about future careers and your ...
    Posted Mar 10, 2017, 10:58 AM by Leah Kirssin
  • Advice for Rising Seniors     I would say that it is important to not procrastinate. I think the hardest part of this project is cramming to complete all parts of the modules before the deadline ...
    Posted Mar 10, 2017, 10:34 AM by Leah Kirssin
  • Strategies and Sources for Research “Describe some strategies or specific resources that have been most important to you in researching and writing your research paper.”    A majority of my solutions in my paper are based ...
    Posted Mar 10, 2017, 10:22 AM by Leah Kirssin
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