Four Sanpete students to
attend leadership meet in
Valley Forge during April
By Linda Petersen
Mar. 29, 2018
Four local high school students will attend a four-day conference in Pennsylvania next month.
Three Gunnison Valley High School juniors—Tiandra Taylor, Teersa Payne and Ruth Lyons, along with Manti High junior Edison Cluff, will shortly have the opportunity to attend the April 12-15 Spirit of America Youth Leadership Conference at Freedoms Foundation in Valley Forge, Penn.
To be considered for the conference, students must submit a detailed application and an essay and be interviewed by a selection committee.
“It’s pretty unusual for us to choose three students from one school, but we were just so impressed with the students from Gunnison,” committee chair Dennis Ward said.
Sponsored by the Freedoms Foundation, the conference brings together students from across the nation to study the American political process, citizenship, democracy, the free enterprise system and the judicial system.
“It’s absolutely invaluable for the kids to go because of their exposure to the roots of American history,” Utah chapter president Dennis Randall said.
Edison said he is fascinated with the political process and wants to learn how to utilize it to help others.
Tiana said she is looking forward to learning more about the history of our nation.
Along with lectures and reenactments, students will participate in a mock Congress where they will debate hot topic issues like gun control and national security.
“The adults back off and let the teens work together,” Randall said. “It’s fascinating to watch.”
At the conferences, participants are intentionally not housed with the group they travel with so they are exposed to a diverse mix of youth. This is something, Edison, who moved to Manti from Texas just over a year ago, is particularly looking forward to.
Along with conference tours of Valley Forge and the Medal of Honor Grove, the group will also get to tour Independence Hall, homes of George Washington and Betsy Ross and the new Museum of the American Revolution before heading home to Utah.
The Utah chapter of the Freedoms Foundation pays $900 of the $1,300 cost for each student’s attendance at the conference and the airfare. The students are asked to pay the rest and are encouraged to obtain sponsors.
Edison’s grandmother and aunt agreed to sponsor him if he would perform acts of service around his neighborhood and community.
“It was a bit different being paid to do service,” said Edison, who usually serves without charge.
Tiandra said her parents paid half of her costs, and she paid the rest.
Randall said the Utah chapter is blessed to have several wealthy donors who help fund the program and volunteers who are willing to visit schools to share the program with students.
“There’s a real passion for the principles of patriotism and the values of the Freedoms Foundation, and the reality that this country is made up of all kinds of people and states yet we’re all in it together,” he said.
The Freedoms Foundation also sponsors a weeklong summer program for history teachers. All costs are covered by the local chapters.
More information can be found at freedomsfoundation.org.