By Erica Choe
Muirlands Middle School sixth-grade student Maya Monroy recently attended the Junior Young Leaders conference held in Washington D.C. Monroy was nominated by her social studies teacher, Mark Heinze, based on scholastic merit and leadership potential. “Maya has a quiet dignity about her that shows a maturity beyond her years,” said Heinze.
At the Junior Young leaders Conference, sixth- and seventh-grade students who have demonstrated an outstanding potential for leadership are given the opportunity to hone their communication skills. The conference’s philosophy is that emphasizing the importance of speaking well at an early age helps students realize their potential to affect their community.
The conference included meetings, debates, and homework that tested the students’ leadership skills. Monroy was in a number of debates, mostly focused on constitutional amendments and freedom of speech. Monroy said that winning debates showed her that it actually does take a voice to make a change. “It made me want to participate more because I could do something. I could win,” she said.
Students who completed the program return to their homes feeling better and more confident in themselves, said Heinze. They come back confident because they have been treated as adults.
“I went there as myself and came out as a different person,” said Monroy. “They taught us that our voices matter.”
While in the Washington D.C. area, Monroy went sightseeing. She also toured Pennsylvania.
“There’s so many things to see there,” she said, “and much history.”
With her experience Monroy said she hopes to be a better citizen and influence her community and school.