High school freshman off to leadership forum in Europe

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Hayden High School freshman Lysa Valora, who was selected to attend a student leadership forum in Europe, leaves for London today.

— Hayden High School freshman Lysa Valora spent this week attending Spanish class and feeding her sheep. She will spend next week shaking hands with members of British Parliament.

Lysa, 14, was selected by People to People International to attend its World Leadership Forum in Europe, after attending a similar program in Washington, D.C., last year with students from Hayden Middle School.

Lysa leaves today and will spend nine days in London, Brussels and Paris, learning about European government and world affairs, as well as visiting historic sites and participating in an International Leadership Conference in London.

"I'm excited to be going, because it's huge, but I'm kind of nervous because I've never flown by myself," she said.

Other than the minor apprehension about her solo flight from Denver to Atlanta, where she will join 15 other students from across the country, Valora was ready and raring to go Thursday.

"Everyone's excited for me. I think other people are more scared of me going than I am, like my friends," Lysa said. "My mom's freaking out about it."

Shannon Valora, who works in the Hayden High School library, had the mixed response of beaming pride and parental worry as her daughter's departure neared.

"This is a huge honor for her, being selected because of her grades and her leadership skills," Valora said.

The purpose of People to People Student Leader Programs is to "foster peace through understanding" and give future leaders skills in international affairs and diplomacy, according to the program's Web site.

Lysa said Paris will unquestionably be the highlight of her trip.

"It's crazy going to Paris. I've always wanted to go there, and never thought I'd get to," she said.

"All summer long, she's told people 'I'm going to Paris! I'm going to Paris,' not Europe," Shannon Valora said.

Though only a freshman, Lysa has plenty of extracurricular activities on her plate, including cheerleading, basketball and student council at Hayden High School. She also works with community service organizations in Hayden and participates in 4-H, both as an officer and raising markets lambs at her family's home, 12 miles south of Hayden on Sage Creek.

"I have 11 ewes and a ram, and I'm going to breed them soon to have 4-H lambs," Lysa said.

- To reach Melinda Dudley, call 871-4203

or e-mail mdudley@steamboatpilot.com

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