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Marysville student attends national conference

Marysville Middle School seventh-grader Jessica Red Elk proudly displays her invite to the National Young Leaders State Conference in Seattle Feb. 4-7. - Kirk Boxleitner
Marysville Middle School seventh-grader Jessica Red Elk proudly displays her invite to the National Young Leaders State Conference in Seattle Feb. 4-7.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

MARYSVILLE — Marysville Middle School seventh-grader Jessica Red Elk distinguished herself so well in class that her health teacher, Bill Wright, thought she deserved a chance to hone her skills on a larger scale.

That’s why Wright nominated Red Elk to attend the National Young Leaders State Conference in Seattle Feb. 4-7, which is part of the Congressional Youth Leadership Council.

Wright has only nominated students from his classes for this state conference a few times in his three decades of teaching. He described Red Elk as deserving of the honor because she’s demonstrated to him in class that she’s self-motivated and possesses leadership potential.

“She has a great maturity level for her age and she always completes her tasks in class,” Wright said. “She’s really risen to the top.”

Red Elk’s GPA hovers between 3.5 and 4.0, with her most recent report card sporting four A’s and two B’s.

Keith Red Elk, Jessica’s dad, has read to her since she was young, but he echoed Wright’s assessment of how much of a self-starter she’s become since.

“She does all her homework on her own and follows through with things until the end,” Keith Red Elk said. “She takes it on by herself.”

“I just follow the directions, and try to exceed them,” Jessica Red Elk said, when asked to explain her academic success.

Jessica and Keith both admitted to some nervousness about her attending the state conference, whose syllabus includes training sessions devoted not only to leadership, but also to teamwork and goal-setting.

Looking beyond February, Jessica is unsure about what the future will bring, although she expects to attend college and expressed interest in becoming a chef, and possibly even opening her own restaurant.

“Sometimes, students’ potentials can get overlooked,” Wright said. “I’m hopeful that, with just a little encouragement, we can wake them up to those possibilities.”

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