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Local scholar to attend inauguration conference

Samuel Cyrus Jett (right), a freshman at Christchurch School, and his brother Starke Jett, an 8th-grader at Chesapeake Academy, are both alumnus of the National Youth Leadership State Conference.

Some opportunities are just too unique to let pass by. Last March, while an 8th-grader at Chesapeake Academy, Samuel Cyrus Jett received an invitation to attend the Presidential Youth Inaugural Conference in Washington, D.C., in January of 2009.

The Presidential Youth Inaugural Conference (PYIC), held every four years following the presidential election, is designed to educate, motivate and inspire students by giving them the opportunity to share firsthand in the excitement and ceremony of the inauguration of the President and Vice President of the United States, and includes five days of debates, roundtable discussions, and speeches designed to give scholars a deeper understanding of the electoral history of the United States, as well as their roles in democracy.

With the invitation was a catch. Jett had to commit to the conference last spring, regardless of the outcome of the following November’s presidential election.

That the swearing in of the 44th President of the United States of America will be a history-making event, made Jett’s mid-March decision to attend all the more sweeter. A self-proclaimed Democrat with an eye towards policies that promote energy and environmental sustainability as well as international peace, Jett is among the majority of his Inauguration Conference peers who voted in a mock election to elect then presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Beginning on January 17, 2009, the PYI Conference will begin with an opening night reception with keynote speeches by Nobel Prize winner and former Vice President of the U.S. Al Gore, and former Secretary of State and founder of America’s Promise Alliance General Colin L. Powell, USA (ret.).

Activities over the subsequent days leading up to the inauguration itself on Jan. 20 include roundtable discussions with national journalists, meetings with congressional staff, and point/counter point debates with leading political experts, as well as special events with VIPs. The conference peaks when the Inaugural Scholars take part in the traditional ceremony of the inauguration as they witness the official swearing-in of the President of the United States, and view the inaugural parade as the President, Vice President and their families make their way from the U.S. Capitol to the White House.

As a culminating event, scholars will attend a Black Tie Gala Inaugural Ball, staying up late as the nation’s capital buzzes with excitement.

Jett received the invitation to attend the Presidential Youth Inauguration Conference because he was an alumnus of the National Youth Leadership State Conference (NYLSC) held in December of 2007 while an 8th-grader at Chesapeake Academy. Jett was nominated to attend the NYLSC by Chesapeake Academy history teacher Claudia Soucek.

Soucek also nominated Cyrus’ younger brother Starke, who attended the same leadership conference in December of 2008, declaring it a “life-changing event.” Because the PYIC is for high school students only, Starke Jett, a current 8th grader at Chesapeake Academy, was not eligible to attend.

Cyrus is currently a freshman at Christchurch School. He thanks his grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Simon R. Zimmerman III, and aunt and uncle, Dr. Jennifer Kegel and Mr. Paul Zimmerman, all of Lancaster, for helping him achieve his dreams and financially supporting his attendance at the PYI Conference. 

posted 01.08.2009

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