Eudora 6th-grader attends leadership forum in D.C.
Eudora Middle School student Justin Leonard lives a busy life. The sixth-grader is the Jr. Vice President of the Eudora 4-H Club, where he shows pigs and participates in woodworking and public speaking. He also participates in choir and on April 5 participated in a math contest at Kansas University.
This week will be a bit busier than usual, as Leonard will be in Washington D.C. as a participant in the People to People World Leadership Forum where he will interact with children from around the world and learn about important leaders throughout history.
After receiving a high score on last year's Iowa Test of Basic Skills, his fifth-grade teacher at Tempest Stein nominated him to take part in the program.
Dwight D. Eisenhower founded the program 50 years ago sought to bring together the youth from around the world to communicate with each other and make a difference where governments could not.
Leonard has been working hard to raise funds for the trip, which cost $2,195 - not including airfare, by circulating letters throughout Eudora and Lawrence. He has had donations from 20 businesses and organizations including Lawrence Automotive, the Eudora Lions Club and the Kaw Valley Bank.
His favorite subject is math, but he loves all of his classes.
"He's secure and he definitely has some leadership qualities," EMS English teacher Carrie Jackson said.
Leonard's EMS social studies teacher Dana Neis agreed with Jackson's assessment and said Leonard should thrive during his experience in Washington.
"He will be really good for this because he'd take it to heart and learn from it," she said.
Though he participates in many activities, his family's suggestion that he participate in 4-H has allowed him to find an outlet for something he loves to do.
"I never could find out a way to do stuff with the pigs and other animals, so they pointed me in the direction of 4-H," he said.
He hopes to work in agriculture when he is finished with school, which he hopes will culminate with a degree from Kansas State University.
He is excited to travel, as the last time he was on a plane was when he was too young to recall the experience. His Grandfather Kirby Anders will accompany him on the flight to and from Washington.
Leonard's mother Angela said she and the rest of the family are very proud of her son. While she encourages him to do well, she thinks his drive to excel in school is mostly intrinsic.
"I think it's a little bit of both," she said. "B papers are like bad words. He was like that from the very beginning and gets upset when he gets a B."
However, Leonard did concede that he would allow himself one B.
"One would be okay - as long as it's only one - because school gets harder as you get older," he said.