By Cassandra Storey


Cassandra Storey

I spent last week with 12 young people from all over the United States and a girl from Germany.  We were chosen to attend the Junior National Young Leaders Conference. in Washington, D.C.  Besides having fun, I learned a lot about what it takes to be a good leader. It takes:

  • Good communication skills
  • Setting realistic goals
  • Finding many ways to solve a problem
  • Working as a team
  • Giving respect
  • Being a good character

We were very busy every day. On day one we explored Capitol Hill, including the Library of Congress. We also went to the NEWSEUM where we learned many points about history. Next day we traveled to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, where abolitionist John Brown, raided the U. S. arsenal. He gathered 16 white men and 5 freed and fugitive slaves. Some people in the United States at this time were afraid of a slave uprising and that is just what happened. John Brown showed great determination for what he believed in. That inspired me.

That night we chose a name for our group, “Respect  # 1”. We chose a cause or problem to solve. We chose to solve Bullying in Schools. We came up with the idea of creating a Hot Line for bullies and victims of bullying to help them talk through their issues.

On Wednesday we toured the District of Columbia. We had a photo opportunity at the White House. Soon after, we visited the Korean War Memorial. On the memorial it says: “FREEDOM IS NOT FREE.”  This taught me that our life here in the United States is not without cost.

We walked over to the Lincoln Memorial where we each read a passage from the “I have a Dream” speech that Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered originally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in August 1963. This was very moving.

The next day we met in our Leadership Focus Group all day. We presented our ideas on how to stop bullying to the other groups. We spent the night at the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore.

Monday we headed home to our beloved families.

As you can see, I have learned a lot from this experience and would not have had the opportunity without being nominated by my fifth- and sixth-grade teacher, Robin White, who saw in me the light to make a good leader. I could not have gone without the support of my friends, family, and many others who gave me money to go. I met many people from all over the United States and even Germany.  It was an experience that I will never forget..~