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Area student attends national leadership conference

November 07, 2002|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Jillian Leedy was chosen to represent her school at a national leadership conference in Washington, D.C., last month because of her interest in government, her high school civics teacher said.

Leedy, 17, a Greencastle-Antrim High School senior, said she plans to study psychology and art when she gets to college. Her ultimate goal is to become a psychological profiler for a federal investigative agency like the FBI, she said.

Still, Leedy said, her five-day experience as one of 400 high school students from across the country at the National Young Leaders Conference in Washington gave her insight into the inner workings of government.

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Through lectures, talks with national political leaders and national media representatives, congressional briefings and role-playing - she played the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. advising the president - she said she was able to refine her speaking skills, learned how to organize and picked up a lot of knowledge about leadership. The students also went to the National Press Club to meet with prominent journalists.

"The whole process intrigued me," Leedy said.

The experience taught her how government works in a much more real way than just learning about it in a classroom, she said. "We spent four hours on Capital Hill, we met some of Congressman Shuster's (U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa.) staff members and saw Congress in action," she said.

Ellen Kirkner, the high school's 11th-grade civics teacher, said she only nominates students with high academic standards, who show an interest in and an aptitude for politics and government and who will work hard when they go to the conference.

"I nominate students who will get a lot out of it," Kirkner said. "It's extremely educational and a wonderful experience for the students. It's hands on. They get to go on the floor of the Congress and meet the nation's policy makers."

It cost about $1,200 to attend the conference, which runs for five days. The cost is paid by the student.

Leedy said one of the best experiences was meeting students from around the country. She said she became good friends with two girls, one from California, the other from Texas, with whom she plans to stay in touch.

Leedy is also a talented artist, Kirkner said.

Leedy said he is interested in three colleges, including the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, where she would study to be an illustrator; Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, which offers a double major in psychology and art, and Yale University.

"Yale is just a shot in the dark," she said.

Leedy is the daughter of Gregory and Kathleen Leedy of Greencastle.

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