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Students head to nation's capital for leadership

Date: 8/3/2009

On July 25, Lauren Brown, a junior at Minnechaug Regional High School (MRHS), along with other high school students from across the United States, took part in a unique leadership development conference in our nation's capital. Brown was nominated by Heidi Drawec, MRHS Dean of Students, to serve as a National Scholar. During the 10-day program, the National Young Leaders Conference (NYLC) provided scholars with the opportunity to interact with a variety of personnel who operate within the three branches of government, the news media and the international community.

As a freshman, Brown served as president of the class of 2011 and was awarded the MRHS Freshman Citizenship Award. During her sophomore year, she was co-president of the Executive Board of the MRHS Student Council. The past two years she has been active in the Key Club, a member of the MRHS varsity ski team and played junior varsity softball for MRHS. She is a member of Wilbraham United Church and has volunteered to assist with Vacation Bible School. She also volunteers at Central New England Equine Rescue in Ware and professionally aspires to become a veterinarian.

"NYLC prepares students to serve our country well, whether that means as elected officials in our nation's capital, as active members within communities around the world or as intelligent, creative responsible members of the work force," said Marguerite Regan, Dean of Academic Affairs for the Congressional Youth Leadership Council (CYLC), the organization that sponsors the conference. "Through a series of simulations, we place these young leaders in the proverbial driver's seat on a variety of issues facing our country today. Their determination, as shown within the conference, is a good indicator of the types of leaders we will see in the future."

Past highlights of this program have included welcoming remarks by a current or former member of Congress, made from the floor of the House of Representatives a privilege that is seldom afforded to other groups. Students have also had opportunities to interact with prominent members of the Washington Press Corps at the National Press Club, in addition to meeting with senators and representatives or appointed staff members to discuss important issues facing the nation.

To complement the schedule of special meetings and briefings, students participated in a number of leadership skill-building activities and simulations. In one role play activity titled "If I Were President," students acted as the President and Cabinet members responding to an international crisis. Students also participated in "Testing the Constitution," in which they examined actual Supreme Court cases. The conference culminated with the Model Congress, in which scholars assumed the roles of U.S. Representatives and debated, amended and voted on proposed mock legislation.

CYLC is a nonpartisan, independent, educational organization. Since 1985, the council has inspired more than 200,000 young people to achieve their full leadership potential. Members of the U.S. Congress have joined our commitment by serving on the CYLC Honorary Congressional Board of Advisory. In addition, more than 50 embassies participate in the Council's Honorary Board of Embassies.

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