Thirteen-year-old Joe Hendershott walked quietly - without fuss, with a hardback novel under his arm - through the Craig Middle School hallways, not betraying any semblance of anticipation.
After talking for a minute, though, he started letting on how excited he was for an opportunity to visit Washington, D.C. Joe plans to join students from around the world in the People to People International Global Youth Forum, from March 17 to 23.
The program focuses on leadership, international understanding and humanitarianism. The students will visit many of Washington's historical sights, monuments and museums, and hear from different guest speakers.
"It's fun to try new things," Joe said. "I've never been there (Washington) before."
The capital city is where things happen, he said, and there's a lot to see and even more people to meet.
"I always really wanted to meet any kind of president or important person," Joe said. "A lot of other people I know have gone to Washington and liked it."
The forum is open to students ages 13 to 18. Joe isn't worried about being around older kids.
"I'm hoping to make new friends," he said.
Joe is no stranger to new places. His family moved to Craig from Chicago in January when his father took a job at the TriState power plant. His dad was tired of shift work in Chicago, Joe said.
Both of them like the open spaces here, though sometimes Joe misses the tall Chicago skyscrapers.
"Chicago was cool; it was fun to look up sometimes," he said. "I like it here, though."
Joe is the youngest of four children. His older siblings are excited for him, and his friends at school say he's really lucky to be making the trip.
"They send me work packets a lot," he said. "They give you eight questions about leadership, how to be a better leader. You have to answer in complete paragraphs."
In addition to the work he gets, Joe is trying to raise money for the trip. He plans to have a bake sale on Oct. 13 and 14 in front of City Market. He also thinks he'll set up a lemonade stand to make a little extra money.
And that's just the kind of kid Joe is, said Sharon Thompson, his seventh-grade language arts teacher. She nominated Joe for the program.
"He came in last year as a new student and he is : I'm at a loss," she said. "He's such a positive influence on our classes. He leads by example. He's very self-motivated."
Thompson has taught at the middle school since 1994 and has nominated students each year for the past four years, she said. Joe is the first student to ever take advantage of the opportunity.
Joe also has good memories of Thompson.
"We like the same author, Ted Dekker," he said, pointing to the novel he had under his arm.
People to People first contacted Thompson about the program. After some research, she decided it would be a positive chance for her students.
"I wish more students would take advantage," she said. "It's a really good opportunity for some of our students to spread their wings a little bit and see the world. We are off the beaten track, and some of our kids don't have the cultural opportunities like kids have in New York, or D.C., or Denver.
"I'm very proud of Joe."