Story at a glance ...
• Five students from Sandrock Elementary School teacher Brycie Klein’s fifth-grade class have been nominated to participate in the Junior National Young Leaders Conference this fall in Washington, D.C.
• The program teaches outstanding middle school-age students from around the nation the function of leadership in modern society and in a historical setting.
• The students from Sandrock are Dajia Lewis, Tristan Farquharson, Lizbeth Magallanes, Madison Meckley and Josh Worster.
While researching 18th century American figure Nathanael Greene, Sandrock Elementary School fifth-grader Dajia Lewis came to a conclusion about how much of a role the Revolutionary War general played in the history of the country.
“He was important to the war because without him, we wouldn’t have won,” she said.
Although the forging of a nation might not be upon her shoulders, Lewis said she hopes to be a leader like Greene, who was one of George Washington’s most trusted officers.
And, with a recommendation from her teacher, she and her classmates may be on that path.
Lewis was one of five students nominated by Sandrock teacher Brycie Klein to attend the fall session of the Junior National Young Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C.
Klein’s other nominees are Madison Meckley, Josh Worster, Lizbeth Magallanes and Tristan Farquharson.
The Junior National Young Leaders Conference is a program designed to enhance the abilities of academically excellent students who show potential in leadership and maturity.
Speakers at the conference in previous years include former vice president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Gen. Colin Powell.
The program includes lessons on leadership throughout American history, complete with tours of significant Washington, D.C., sites to allow students to get a visual assessment of the nation’s capital.
Worster said he is looking forward to seeing Washington because the first time he was there, he was only “sort of” there.
“I was just in the airport because I was getting on another plane,” he said. “I hope we get to see everything you see on TV, like the White House and things like that.”
Worster said he’s worked hard to do his best every day in Klein’s class.
“I think I’ve been kind and helpful and got my work done on time,” he said.
Worster added that the kind of leadership skills he wants to learn at the conference are “how to tell people what to do in a nice way and help them when they’re struggling.”
Klein said she chose the five students based on their abilities in the classroom and their willingness to go above and beyond.
“They have the high academic standard, and they’re outstanding leaders in their own right,” she said. “So far, they’ve been very positive and proactive leaders. A lot of times kids take their leadership skills down the wrong path.”
Klein, who is completing her first year teaching at Sandrock, said Craig is “the richest place” she’s ever taught.
Before moving to Craig, she taught at McCormick Elementary School in Farmington, N.M., and at Eagle View Elementary School, on a Ute Indian reservation in Roosevelt, Utah.
“This is a completely different group of kids than I’ve ever had,” she said. “Their parents have more resources to access things that other kids I’ve taught haven’t had.”
Klein said she tries to focus on “self-directed work” in which students can get a sense of how much work is necessary during the school day.
“Some of them will just ask, ‘What’s the bare minimum?’ and some will hand in 47 pages,” she said. “This bunch has gotten to the point this year where they’re really independent thinkers and they’re able to take what they know and manipulate it to come up with their own answers to problems, which is really what I’m trying to encourage.”
One of the year-end assignments for the class is writing a research paper about a person from the Revolutionary War.
Klein’s candidates for the Junior National Young Leaders Conference learned about the importance of bravery and knowledge while studying about Friedrich von Steuben, Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry.
Farquharson’s paper focuses on Nathan Hale, an American spy for the Continental Army who famously stated “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country” before he was hung by British troops.
Farquharson also looked into Hale’s younger life, which he found inspiring.
“He was at Yale when he was 14,” he said.
Klein has also included hands-on projects in her curriculum like constructing paper airplanes, learning about the effects of rock salt via ice cream and writing a “how to” essay on making peanut butter sandwiches.
Magallanes said she enjoys her teacher’s upbeat attitude in the classroom.
“She’s really funny and jokes around a lot,” she said.
Farquharson agrees wholeheartedly.
“I think she’s the best teacher I’ve ever had,” he said.
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