Wilson heading to Washington

By Sherrie Norris (sherrie.norris@mountaintimes.com)

Article Published: Apr. 16, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Wilson heading to Washington

WHS honor student Gabrielle Wilson hopes to represent her school and community in Washington, D.C., this summer

Photo by Lauren Ohnesorge.

Gabrielle Wilson, a sophomore at Watauga High School, has been nominated to attend the National Youth Leaders Conference (NYLC) in Washington, D.C., this summer.

The NYLC gives high-achieving high school sophomores, juniors and seniors a greater understanding of their roles in democracy and the responsibilities of leadership.

Wilson is eagerly anticipating the hands-on experience and will join peers from across the U.S. in what has been described as "a unique approach to leadership training" by program coordinators.

Each session of the National Young Leaders Conference is designed to educate, inspire and motivate students by giving them the confidence and leadership skills that will take them into a successful future.

Gabrielle will attend one of the summer's 10-day sessions; the conference theme is "The Leaders of Tomorrow Meeting the Leaders of Today."Gabrielle will have the opportunity to discuss issues with the men and women who shape policies and laws. The NYLC challenges participants to assess problems, contribute to group discussions and take on roles in educational simulations.

Through these hands-on experiences, students develop important leadership skills by learning to evaluate critical information, form and advocate positions and make decisions, a spokesperson for the conference said.

NYLC accepts high school sophomores, juniors and seniors who meet the highest criteria in academics and leadership. These scholars are nominated by high school educators or CYLC alumni, in conjunction with school officials.

As an exceptional student excited about representing her school and hometown in Washington this summer, Wilson considers this nomination as "a very high honor."

She has been described by those who know her best as "an all-around great student" and "outstanding individual."

She is an honor roll student, National Honor Society member, Spanish club member, and is considered to be a leader among her peers. She maintains a 3.8 grade point average, is a basketball player and plays clarinet in the band.

Wilson said that she has been greatly inspired by teachers at WHS such as Whit Whitaker.

Her goal is to attend Vanderbilt University - hopefully on a basketball scholarship ?- and major in English.

As a gifted writer, she is currently writing her first book - "a fantasy/romance that will appeal to both boys and girls," she said. In her free time, she loves to read, write and play video games.

She attends church at The Heart, which meets at WHS on Sunday mornings, and she is active in the church youth group.

Wilson has played basketball since first-grade. She plays post and was privileged to be on the undefeated team of the JV girls this year; she's slated for the varsity team in the coming year. She is also a member of Watauga Storm travel team.

As the oldest of four children, Wilson has often assumed a leadership role in her family, helping with her siblings as her father works out of town and as her mother is a full-time Appalachian State University student, who will graduate with honors at the age of 38 on May 8 with a degree in middle grades education.

Her mother shared how Gabrielle "kept the family together" last summer when her younger brother was diagnosed with Type 1 juvenile diabetes and spent four days in the hospital's intensive care unit.

"During that time, she cooked and cleaned - did it all - so that I could stay at the hospital," Mrs. Wilson said.

The diagnosis has put a strain on the family's financial status since, at the time, they did not have insurance.

A source close to the family is hoping to help raise money for Gabrielle's Washington opportunity.

The basic cost of the 10-day trip, for which she will receive college credits, is $2,500, due by April 23.

Tuition covers the expenses incurred by CYLC in planning and implementing the program. Included in the tuition costs are lodging, all breakfasts and dinners, curriculum materials, compensation for the faculty advisors and private motor coach transportation within Washington, D.C. Transportation to and from Washington, D.C., is not included.

Wilson will need money for lunches, souvenirs and other incidentals (phone calls, snacks, etc.).

Family friends are rallying around the student; one close associate of the Wilson family said, "We are doing some fundraising and asking local businesses, as well as her church family, to sponsor her. I don't know of anyone who is more deserving of this opportunity than Gabrielle. She always puts her family and others first and is entitled to this exciting opportunity."

To date, Main Street Marketing is offering some support through Wilson's willingness to help sell some of its popular dining cards.

Tax-deductible gifts are appreciated to help make this trip possible. Checks should be made payable to NYLC and mailed to: Gabrielle Wilson, 457 Jefferson Road, Boone N.C. 28607.

For more information about the conference, visit http://www.cylc.org/NYLC/

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