WCMS student earns unique opportunity
by Sparta Live | February 27, 2009 12:00 am
Crockett Sewell, son of Greg and Lisa Sewell, was among nearly 3,000 middle school students across the nation, and the only one from White County, whose academic achievements earned invitations to the historic inauguration of President Barack Obama.
Sewell attended the event as a member of Junior Presidential Youth Inaugural Conference (JrPYIC), an organization sponsored by the Congressional Youth Leadership Council (CYLC).
“Mainly, we learned how to be a better leader in our community and learn more about the world,” said Sewell.
The JrPYIC identifies middle school students with demonstrated leadership potential and a history of academic achievement. They hope to attract the most mature and independent individuals possible within their age group.
Sewell and his co-participants had a full schedule throughout the five-day conference. They were broken down into manageable groups.
“On our bus, we split up into three groups of like 15 or 16 kids,” stated Sewell. “And then each group had one person that taught them.”
Besides the inauguration and watching the inaugural parade, the attendees’ itinerary included trips to the National Air and Space Museum, a dinner cruise on the Potomac River, and a Gala Inaugural Ball.
They also had their days filled with roundtable discussions, meetings, and point/counter point debates with leading political experts, as well as special events with VIP’s.
Several speakers included former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former Vice President Al Gore, former White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers, and Erik Weihenmayer, a blind man who climbed Mount Everest and who has conquered several other unbelievable feats.
“We got to listen to Colin Powell speak,” said Sewell. “He had such good answers for each question.”
Dee Dee Myers was director of a documentary called ‘The Third Monday in October’ about students in 2004 running for their schools’ student councils.
“It was really good, though, because it showed the procedures they had to go through and them giving their speeches,” stated Sewell. “It also showed how dedicated kids are to wanting to be in government.”
Several students featured in the movie were also in attendance to talk to Sewell’s group.
The conference also included classroom activities, part of which allowed students to use role-playing in governmental activities to illustrate the problem-solving skills of the participants.
“We learned about the electoral college and the roles of the president,” said Sewell. “In our first group meeting, they took out five people, who had to come up with a skit. And ours was the chief executive. So what our group did was we had a president and she appointed a couple of other people to certain jobs. And the skits were about domestic and foreign affairs. We had a girl in our group from Puerto Rico and she spoke Spanish. So we had her from Spain and we had a translator.”
Sewell’s group role-play exercise involved a hypothetical plane crash with planes from different countries. They had to figure out how to deal with the complexity of such an international issue.
“And then, the whole class had to guess what we were doing,” stated Sewell. “And we got to do that with the other groups.”
Sewell says this unique experience was one that he will not soon forget. He met and made friends with a lot of interesting people from across the country and the world.
He heard some very unique and inspiring insights from intelligent, experienced individuals. And he witnessed the inauguration of the first black man elected to the country’s highest office.
This Washington experience of observing the responsibilities of leadership, which is designed to educate, motivate and inspire students, could be the first in a long line for Sewell who, according to his mother, Lisa, had mentioned as early as the third grade that he wanted to be an ambassador.