Ten Students from Koyuk Malimiut School have been invited to attend the Junior National Young Leadership Conference this summer in Washington, D.C.
Flora Kavairlook, a seventh-grade teacher of language arts, was motivated to nominate her students to promote leadership training in early childhood. She selected students based on academic merit and participation in scholastic extracurricular activities. She explains her metric:
“Mostly it was their class performance, how they did their work in class, how they behaved, and their attendance, and it also had to do with, most of all, their work ethic… and things they were involved in: sports or Battle of the Books or ANSEP or any other programs.”
And in late November, all ten of the nominated students received acceptance letters for the Leadership Conference taking place in July. In the beginning of this year, fundraising for the registration fees and airfare was already in full-swing. Kavairlook says, “they’re just excited, they’ll do anything to fundraise: cake walks, and basketball, and selling plates, dinner plates, and doing raffles.”
For the selected students, this means a rare opportunity to visit the Lower 48. Seventh-grader Harley Huntington looks forward to the 3,600 miles of travel ahead of him:
“I’m just really excited for it, because, you just go to a pretty far place, really far away, all the way down in the Lower 48. It’s where I only went to twice.”
Kavairlook hopes the week-long conference will inspire students to envision ways to help out their community:
“When they come back, they can have different ideas about how they can help. I’m excited for them to learn, like, different ways they can help themselves, their families, or their school, or the community.”
However, the logistical hurdles of the trip are fitting of its potential benefit: tens of thousands of dollars need to be raised to cover travel costs. But headway has been made. For starters, the conference’s usual no-chaperone rule has been waived for the Koyuk group due to the extreme distance they will travel.
In the meantime, results from scholarship applications are expected within the next few weeks, and there are many more months left to fundraise – an opportunity Kavairlook says has already given the students practice in teamwork and customer service skills.
On the topic of dress code, however, the kids might need some convincing. Kavairlook says her students have misgivings “about wearing khaki pants and dress shirts, and the girls have to wear dresses, so they’re nervous — but we’re getting them ready for it.”
Image at top: Interior, Koyuk Malimiut School. Karen Trop/KNOM.