Max McKenna and Remi Shendell, fifth grade students at Tamaques Elementary School, traveled to the nation’s capital to participate in the People to People World Leadership Forum. The renowned program brings together exceptional students from across the nation and around the world, offering them a unique blend of specialized educational, leadership and cultural exposure.
As Leadership Ambassadors, McKenna and Shendell had the opportunity to take part in interactive workshops, listen to distinguished keynote speakers, explore numerous museums and gain special access to federal landmarks.
McKenna, who made his trip to Washington in January, witnessed history firsthand, attending President Obama’s inauguration ceremony. “That was definitely the one of the biggest highlights of my trip,” he said. His DC experience also featured stops at the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial, the Natural History Museum and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery. Hearing a presentation made by an Air Force Once pilot made a lasting impression as well. “I was on my own for the first time, got to meet other people my age from all over the country and see many important places,” explained McKenna. “It gave me a bigger sense of responsibility and independence, which is something I will always remember.”
Shendell, meanwhile, traveled to Washington in March. Highlights of her trip included visits to the Air & Space Museum, National Spy Museum, and the U.S. Capitol, where Congressman Mike Ferguson spoke to all the Leadership Ambassadors. She also composed a letter that was left at the WWII Memorial. “After participating in this program, I had a new appreciation for history and the importance of leadership,” Shendell stated. “I realized how important it is to strive to reach your full potential, and even at a young age, you can make a difference.” To help pay for her trip to DC, Shendell organized a well-received golf-a-thon.
Marisa Truselo, McKenna and Shendell’s former teacher, nominated them both for the honor of representing New Jersey at the conference. “Max and Remi are remarkable students and natural leaders,” explained Mrs. Truselo. “I recommended them for the People to People Program because I knew this experience would allow them to broaden their perspectives, expose them to new ideas and hopefully inspire them to continue on the path to becoming leaders of tomorrow.”
McKenna and Shendell agree that the People to People Conference gave them a wealth of valuable lessons they will take with them as they embark on their journey through Edison Intermediate School and beyond. “It was an amazing experience, one we’ll never forget,” said Shendell.