Brandywine Heights students Tyler Reighn and Mattheau Hunter have been selected to attend a nine-day National Young Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. in July.
To attend, students must be nominated by their teachers. Reighn and Hunter were nominated by Brandywine Heights High School math teacher Jennifer Swartzentruber. They will have the opportunity to interact with a variety of personnel who operate within the three branches of government, the news media and the international community.
“It’s a large leadership event of all student nominees, we’ll learn and work on leadership skills and learn about government,” said Reighn, 16, Topton, who just finished his junior year.
Hunter, 16, Rockland Township, who just finished his sophomore year, has an interest in government, how it works and politics.
“I like in American politics how we have to discuss and compromise. It’s not just one sided,” said Hunter.
“I’m interested in politics, it’s not something I want to do with my life but it is something I’m interested in,” said Reighn. “It’s something everyone should know. Especially since we have so much choice in this country. You should know how things work.”
“Some people understand the two party system, but there’s more, it’s a broader subject,” said Hunter.
Reighn has attended Topton Borough Council meetings, mostly for Boy Scouts. Hunter said he’s picked up some knowledge from his mother, Lisa Hunter, from her being president of the Sports Boosters.
When asked what they hope to gain from their experience at the conference, Reighn said, “I want to know how to interact with new people. It seems really simple, you just make friends, but it’s a little different when everyone has very different personalities but they’re all leaders.”
He is also looking forward to learning new skills and problem solving.
Hunter is looking forward to getting together with groups.
“I think it’s pretty cool how a bunch of people of different perspectives, different view points, they’ve been through different things, all coming together and sharing their view points on one thing,” said Hunter.
The two friends do not necessarily see themselves as leaders.
“I’ve just seen myself as one who will do what he has to do,” said Hunter.
Reighn and Hunter believe they were chosen by their teacher Swartzentruber because they were one of the few talking together, using concepts and trying to talk the math problem out, not knowing how to do the task completely.
“We both had different views but we didn’t yell at each other, we just talked it out and tried to find the right answer,” said Hunter.
“I think that’s an important part of when you’re leading. There’s no one right way to do it and you have to understand that everyone else has different view points,” said Reighn.
How can they use these leadership skills in the real world?
“You always have options,” said Hunter, noting government agencies and local government. “You always have the right to voice your opinion. You could gain support and help change for the better.”
Reighn said people can organize groups to work toward a common goal, not just in politics but for anything, from building a fence to a cook out. He said leadership skills can be used recreationally as well as professionally.
Also this summer, Hunter will be going to Chinese Camp at the Berks County Intermediate Unit. He has studied the Chinese language for the past two years.
“Our Chinese teachers are actually brought from China. It’s like an immersion into Chinese language,” he said.
Hunter hopes to use that knowledge later in life in business, and be able to talk to the Chinese in their native tongue.
Hunter’s other activities include volleyball, Drama Club and volunteers at the Early Learning Community.
Reighn is President of the Senior Class, was President of the Junior Class, and is a member of the Student Council, Chorus, and the Key and Lock Club. He swims on the Topton Torpedoes Swim Team, works as a lifeguard at the Topton Pool, works as a server at the Glasbern Inn.
A life Scout, he is working on his Eagle Scout Project at the Topton Pool, building a pavilion.
Both sing in the Choraliers and play trombone.