WELLS - This fall two students from Wells were among more than 200 outstanding middle school students from across the United States who took part in a leadership conference in Washington, D.C.
Themed “The Legacy of American Leadership,” the Junior National Young Leaders Conference introduced young people to the rich tradition of leadership throughout American history, while helping them develop their own leadership skills.
“The aim of the Junior National Young Leaders Conference is to inspire students to recognize their own leadership skill, measure their skill against those of current and former leaders and return home with newfound confidence in their ability to exercise positive influence within their communities,” said Mike Lasday, executive director of the Congressional Youth Leadership Council, the organization that sponsors JrNYLC. “Young people are not only welcome in Washington, D.C, they actually keep this city and our country running.”
During the six-day program, participants took part in educational activities and presentations, as well as met with elected officials and key Congressional staff members on Capitol Hill. Participants also visited historic sites, such as Colonial Williamsburg, Harpers Ferry, the national Museum of American History and Washington, D.C.'s, monuments and memorials.
In addition to examining notable U.S. leaders and historic figures, students study the impact of leadership throughout critical periods of American history, including the Civil War and Reconstruction, World War 11, the Great Depression and the Civil Rights Movement. Upon completion of JrNYLC, students gain a greater sense of understanding of the role of individuals in American democracy, as well as the responsibilities of being a leader.
CYLC is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization. Since 1985, the Council has inspired more than 200,000 young people to achieve their full leadership potential. Nearly 425 members of the U.S. Congress serve on the CYLC Honorary Congressional Board of Advisors. In addition, more than 40 embassies participate in the Council's Honorary Board of Embassies.
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Ivan Kelley, son of Shawn and Jodi Kelley, Wells, is a seventh-grader in the Wells schools. Kelly participated in the JrNYLC program in mid-October.
He was nominated for the Junior National Young Leaders Conference by his sixth-grade teacher, Mr. Clinton, who said, “Ivan showed leadership ability in the classroom. He is a mature and academically inclined young man. I thought Ivan would benefit from the experience.”
Kelley said he really enjoyed visiting the nation's Capitol. “I was impressed with the Capitol Building's rotunda and with the statue of Nevada's Sarah Winnemucca.”
While Kelley was in Washington, D.C., for the JrNYLC, Rosa Parks was being honored for her role in the Civil Rights Movement.
“I admired Rosa Parks for the courage she showed when she continued sitting in her seat on the Alabama bus. By sitting down, she stood up for what she believed,” Kelley said.
Kelley said he learned the nine leadership traits identified in the JrNYLC. He recited them from memory: “Respect, perseverance, communication, teamwork, courage, problem-solving, listening to everyone's idea, goal setting and character.”
“We learned how to use these leadership traits in our daily lives. I think this is a good thing,” Kelley said.
Shawn Kelley spoke of his son's experience: “Anytime you can broaden a kid's horizons with positive elements and offer insight into outside exposure, I think that is a good thing.”
Seth Garrett, seventh-grade son of Fred and Jennifer Garrett, Starr Valley, also was nominated by Clinton, for the Junior National Young Leaders Conference.
Clinton said in a recent interview, “Seth was an excellent student who was ever willing to help others in the classroom. I could always count on him to exhibit leadership qualities. As with Ivan, I thought Seth could benefit from the Jr.NYLC program.”
Garrett listed the White House tour as one of the most impressive parts of his visit to the nation's capital. “The chandeliers were huge and cool.” He also mentioned the Vietnam and Korean War memorials as sites he will remember.
Garrett said he was inspired by the leadership abilities of President Lincoln.
“Almost everyone was against him, but he used every one of the nine leadership traits we learned. He persevered and the North won the Civil War.”
Of the 250 young people at the mid-November event Garrett attended, he was the only student from Nevada.
“I was pleased to represent my state,” the young leader smiled.
Fred Garrett, Seth's father, said, “This was a great learning opportunity for Seth. I'm proud that he was able to get himself into a position to go to Washington, D.C., for the youth leadership conference. He was rewarded for his accomplishments and he was able to experience a world far from Wells.”
Principal Jack French summed up: “Ivan and Seth exemplify the leadership qualities needed by our school, our community and our nation. I am pleased that they were able to take advantage of the opportunities offered at the Junior National Youth Leadership Conference.”