Local teens learn to be national leaders | VailDaily.com

Local teens learn to be national leaders

Cindy Ramunno
Battle Mountain High School students from left to right Andrea Gallegos, Trisha Salazar, Scott Canepa, pose in front of a miral to remember September 11. Gallegos, Salazar, Canepa, and not pictured, Sabrina Conte will be attending the National Young Leaders Conference in Washington D.C.

In December, Canepa attended a leadership development program for high school students – based on scholastic merit, community involvement and leadership contributions – aiming to interact with today’s national leaders. Scholars worked through many issues facing our nation today through a series of simulations, getting some “face time” with members of the U.S. Congress or their staff, as well as other influential personalities.

“The NYLC motivates exceptional high school students to responsibly meet challenges head-on and to gain confidence in making positive changes in communities throughout the world,” said Michael Lasday, executive director of the Congressional Youth Leadership Council, the organization that sponsors the conference.

Canepa also interacted with key leaders and newsmakers from the three branches of government, the media and the international community during his stay, participating in a number of leadership skill-building activities. Because leadership goes beyond what happens on Capitol Hill, Canepa says he had the opportunity to interact with a panel of renowned journalist, including Mike Allen of the Washington Post, Pam Hess of the United Press International, Jonathan Karl of CNN and Kathy Kiely of USA Today. Students asked questions regarding the changing balance of power in Congress, national and international currents events, as well as advice and perspectives on how to start a career in journalism. Canepa has been a very active, involved student at BMHS.

Conte, meanwhile, was selected to attend the NYLC “The Leaders of Tomorrow Meeting the Leaders of Today.” Conte met with senators and a representative to discuss important issues facing the nation.

“Sabrina, along with other students, interacted with members of Congress, Washington’s press corps and key appointees to continue formulating their ideals and leadership skills,” Lasday says. “We look at each of these students as colleagues, in whose hands the future of our country lies.”

Gallegos attended an NYLC conference last March in which former U.S. Rep. Tom Downey of New York welcomed the students to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, an honor usually reserved for members of Congress and their special guests.

“I came here as a young boy and was inspired by what I saw happening in the House of Representatives,” Downey said. “I knew then that I wanted to be part of how it works. As I look out at this room, I am encouraged to see you all here because you are learning a great deal through this program, which will enable your leadership skills to serve our country very well.

“Take each of your experiences and use them wisely to benefit your neighbors, friends, family and others about whom you care,” he added.

Last but not least, Salazar attended a different kind of conference – The National Youth Leadership Forum on Defense, Intelligence and Diplomacy in February of last year. Since she demonstrated academic achievement and an interest in a career related to national security, Salazar joined nearly 400 outstanding high school juniors and seniors from across America at the conference. They learned first hand about national security, diplomacy and global defense systems. Throughout the forum, Salazar experience how the U.S. plans for peace, prepares for crisis and met with leaders from key agencies and institutions.

For more information about these conferences, call Brett West at 1-202-777-4192.

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