Learning to lead at a young age

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 14, 2005

Deric Eley thought he knew how to be a leader.

&uot;I thought I’d learned enough,&uot; said the King’s Fork Middle School honor student of before he attended the National Young Leaders State Conference last week. &uot;When I got there, more things came at me, and I learned a lot more.&uot;

Last May, he and three other students were nominated to attend the Vienna event, entitled &uot;Courageous Leadership.&uot;

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First, however, he had a tough task to complete – the trip would cost $1,300. Not much of a problem; Deric brought in the money with donations from his family and the East End Baptist Church Community.

The only student from Suffolk to attend, he and the roughly 500 other eighth and ninth graders from Maryland, Washington D.C., and Virginia headed to a Sheraton Premiere Oct. 6 to start the event. The next day, the event truly began.

&uot;I met all my teachers,&uot; Deric said. &uot;It was pretty fun.&uot;

He and the rest of the students attended several classes, and spent some time individually speaking to some of the administrators.

&uot;The (NYLSC) will help students get at the heart of their innate talents and skills,&uot; said Mike Lasday, the executive director of the Congressional Youth Leadership Council, which sponsors the NYLSC. &uot;It will also help them identify how best they can serve within their communities.&uot;

&uot;It helped me a lot,&uot; Deric said. &uot;It taught me about leadership and knowledge. I learned to appreciate diversity and other peoples’ backgrounds. It’s important because as you go on and meet different people and learn about them and how they were raised, you can learn something from them.&uot;

He hopes to use his leadership skills on the way to becoming an architectural engineer someday.

&uot;I want to build a new White House and Supreme Court and help build homes,&uot; he said.