The American Legion National College graduated 51 students Friday morning, making the 2009 class the second-largest group ever. Attendees spent the week at National Headquarters in Indianapolis, learning leadership skills and working to revitalize assigned posts.
National Commander Clarence E. Hill addressed the class before it graduated."You all are the leaders here and you need to be when you get back to your departments," said Hill, a 2001 Legion College graduate.
The class split into five groups and spent most of the week developing revitalization plans for failing posts. Each group was assigned an actual post. Assignments included learning about the post's history and ascertaining its strengths and weaknesses. The college was completed Friday morning, when groups gave final presentations, offering solutions and a course of action for their assigned posts.
Developing a presence on the Web and within Internet social media networks was a revitalization tactic that was endorsed by most groups. One group recommended that District of Columbia George Washington Post 1 revamp its Web site and consider developing a social media presence to drive membership. The recommendation proved wise, as the group learned at the end of the week that George Washington Post 1 had recently redone its Web site and gained around 100 members.
Hill spoke in detail about the need for Legion College graduates - and Legionnaires everywhere - to embrace the Internet and its many social media branches. "I truly believe the future of this organization is on these social media sites and blogs," he said.
Hill said that graduates should return home, get involved in activities and advertise their accomplishments - via social media, if possible.
"This organization doesn't have a reputation in communities if you don't create it," Hill said.
This year's American Legion National College graduates made their presence felt in an atypical way. The 2009 class donated $512 to the Wounded Warrior Project . National Commander Clarence Hill passed a hat around during a college meeting, and students contributed what they could.
The class also made a lasting mark by raising $1,100 for the dialysis center in Indianapolis' Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center. The contribution was used to buy a television and other small items for patients.
"That's the first time we've ever had a group come to Indianapolis and leave their presence behind," said Legion College chancellor and Past National Commander Butch Miller.