Berryville students attend national leadership conference
By Haley Schichtl
Berryville sixth-graders Arturo Calvillo and Ella Miller attended the Junior National Young Leaders Conference in Washington D.C. last summer.
The students, who were both nominated by Berryville Gifted & Talented (GT) coordinator Larissa Allen, were chosen for showing excellent leadership qualities. Allen said the students who attend the conference are usually in the GT program, but not always.
Calvillo and Miller said GT helped them prepare for the conference, teaching them about public speaking and being a PRO (prepared, responsible and organized).
Students who attend the conference can bring their parents with them, or can go alone and bunk with other participating students. Calvillo went with his parents and Miller went alone, but they both said they met new friends from around the country through the activities.
“It was kind of like being at the first day of school,” Calvillo said.
He said though it was nerve-wracking, the advisers and the friends he made were very nice and helpful. Both students said they felt that despite the stress, they learned a lot from the trip and it was worth it.
“I went back home being way more responsible, and having more sympathy towards others,” Calvillo said.
The students got to see the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam War and Korean War Memorials, the State of the Union building, the National Museum of History and the White House.
“We got to see the actual flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the Star-Spangled Banner,” Miller said.
“We got to see Lincoln’s hat,” Calvillo said. “It’s all rusted now.”
Miller said one of her favorite parts of the conference was hearing the keynote speaker, Anthony Robles. Robles is a champion wrestler who was born with only one leg. Miller said it was very inspiring. Calvillo said his favorite part was the Lincoln Memorial.
“A bunch of activities there helped me realize what I need to work on, like my communication,” Miller said. “I’m pretty good at telling people what to do, but when I don’t understand something I’m kind of scared to ask what to do.”
Miller said all the students were broken into groups that they worked with throughout the week. She described one of the group activities, in which they had a made-up country, formed their own constitution, elected a president, and pretended the country was in chaos. Miller was elected president of her group, which she said was very stressful.
“I was super nervous about middle school, but when I came back, I was like, I’m ready!” Miller said.
Miller described getting the letter in the mail that said she was nominated to go to the conference. Her dad, who jokes around with her a lot, told her it was from Washington D.C., but wouldn’t show her the letter, so she thought he was joking at first.
“He wouldn’t read any more until my whole family was in the room,” Miller said.
Calvillo was the winner of the Carroll County Spelling Bee the last two years, and he plays saxophone, does ventriloquism and plays football.
Miller does sign language and plays multiple instruments and sports.
“I want to be president,” Calvillo said.
“I’ll pass. Too stressful,” Miller said. “I want to be many things, mostly a translator. I’ve thought about being a teacher.”
“If I don’t become president, I’m looking into anesthesiology,” Calvillo said.