Seventh-graders set eyes on D.C. |

Seventh-graders set eyes on D.C.

— A weeklong conference in Washington, D.C., this fall will give several Hayden students a firsthand look at politics and government.

A group of seven Hayden seventh-graders hope to raise at least $15,000 to attend the People to People World Leadership forum.

“A lot of people don’t get to go to Washington, D.C., in their life,” Hayden seventh-grader Lysa Valora said. “I think it will be something that we remember for the rest of our lives.”

President Eisen–hower founded the conference after World War II as a way to promote peace through understanding. The lessons of the conference inspired Walt Disney to build the famous “It’s a Small World” ride.

“They’re going to see a ton of sites,” said Lysa’s mom, Shannon Valora. “They’re also going to be working on their communication skills and leadership skills while they are there.”

Ben Williams, Brian Hoza, Kate Young, Taylor Young, Delanie VeDepo, Lysa Valora and Hayden Blake will attend the conference with a Hayden teacher. The students were nominated to attend the conference by Hayden Middle School building supervisor Gina Zabel. The nominations were based on academic achievement and demonstrated leadership.

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The students and parents have raised more than $6,000 for the October conference. The Routt County Republicans contributed $350 and the Democratic Party collected $550. Routt County commissioners last week approved a donation of $1,400. On Thursday, the Hayden Town Board agreed to donate $1,000 to the students.

Parent Amy Williams said it makes sense for local government to support the students. “If there is one thing the general population doesn’t know enough about, it’s government,” she said.

Lysa Valora said some of the students have been learning how to knit so they can sell scarves to fund the trip.

Amy Williams said the conference will be a great opportunity to meet influential government leaders and to expose the students to new experiences and people from different backgrounds.

“For a kid from a small town like Hayden, the opportunity to meet this many kids, in that big of an urban environment — that will be huge for them,” she said. “(They’re) going to meet someone that is just so different than anyone they’ve ever met.”

To donate money for the students’ trip can call Hayden Middle School at 276-3762.

— To reach Matt Stensland, call 871-4210 or e-mail