Local Student Leaders Invited to Nation’s Capitol | ParkRecord.com
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Local Student Leaders Invited to Nation’s Capitol

Submitted by Kristen Gould Case

Ecker Hill International Middle School 6th graders Caleb Case and Forest Sheehan have returned from a week spent in Washington, D.C. participating in the People to People World Leadership Forum.

President Dwight Eisenhower founded the program in 1956 to help foster world citizenship. Both boys were recommended for the program by their former Trailside Elementary teacher Michelle Hoffman and guidance counselor Alison Vallejo, and were accepted to the program because of their outstanding scholastic merit, civic involvement and leadership potential.

Case and Sheehan spent the week in D.C. with a select group of students from around the country, earning 55 hours of high school course credit as well as 10 hours of community service, which will be applied to their current IB program at Ecker Hill.

The course included a rigorous six-day schedule with a wake-up call at 5:45 a.m. each day.

They examined the characteristics of American leadership while exploring some of our nation’s most prominent monuments and institutions.

Case and Sheehan visited Capitol Hill where they met with congressional representatives, saw the Australian Embassy, the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum and National Museum of American History, Washington Monument, Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, Gettysburg, Arlington National Cemetery, the Vietnam War Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the Holocaust Museum, the Spy Museum, Eisenhower Farm and more.

Each evening, the students participated in small group discussions and exercises to experience first-hand how successful leaders develop strategies, make decisions, build consensus and foster change. They had to keep daily journals and turn in written reports about their studies every day.

Case says his favorite parts of the trip were visiting Gettysburg and the Spy Museum, and that the most touching aspects were seeing Arlington National Cemetery and the Holocaust Museum.

"It’s one thing to hear about numbers of people killed in a war, or to see them in print," says Case. "You tell yourself to feel sad about numbers, but to see them is really touching. To see row upon row of graves, name after name on the wall it was very emotional."

Sheehan’s trip was truly memorable. He left for Washington on his 12th birthday, and the cross-country trip was his first-ever on an airplane.

The airline pilot in charge that day made a special announcement and all of the passengers broke into applause for Sheehan’s special experience.


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