Pair of Polk State collegiate high school students participate in Community Classroom

Posted on by Polk Newsroom

A pair of students from Polk State College’s collegiate high schools had the opportunity this fall semester to learn a little more about local government.

Zia Leidinger, 17, from Polk State College Lakeland Gateway to College Collegiate High School and Maison Sesser, 16, from Polk State Lakeland Collegiate High School were selected with approximately 30 high school students to participate in Community Classroom in November. The program is a staple of the Randy Roberts Foundation and open to students with at least a 3.0 grade-point average and in good standing with no discipline issues.

“It was a great opportunity to learn about government,” Leidinger said. “It gave me a greater insight into how things work in Lakeland. I got to meet new people and learn about the up-and-coming businesses.”

During the morning session of the event, students were introduced to local government officials, and elected officials such as the Lakeland City Commission, members of the Polk County School Board, and County Commissioners. During the afternoon session, students took part in civic engagement activities and interviewed to be selected for Capital Classroom and a trip to Tallahassee.

Sesser and Leidinger have each been accepted to go to Tallahassee later this month.

“It’s a really great opportunity and I’m excited about it,” Sesser said. “Even though we can’t vote and many of us aren’t paying taxes, it’s still important to learn about how our government works. What I learned that day (in Lakeland) was very eye-opening.”

After earning her Associate in Arts, Sesser plans on majoring in business before going on to law school or a master’s program. Polk State’s three collegiate high schools allow students to complete college credits and high school requirements simultaneously, at no cost to them. In most cases, students graduate with both their high school diplomas and college degrees. With focuses on community service and experiential learning, collegiate high schools also connect students to valuable opportunities such as Community Classroom.

Leidinger, an 11th grade student, plans on going into engineering or architecture. She enjoyed the Community Classroom experience.

“While I didn’t have much interest in government at the time, I wanted to learn more,” Leidinger explained. “I like learning new things and saw this as a great learning opportunity. We talked about the differences between city and county government. It was just an enjoyable process.”

Polk State Lakeland Collegiate High School, Polk State Chain of Lakes Collegiate High School, and Polk State Lakeland Gateway to College Collegiate High School are accepting applications for the 2024-2025 Academic Year. Those who are interested should visit for more information and applications.