Four area students participate in Spirit of America Youth Leadership Conference

From left are Denzel Mitchell, John Hancock, Zach Swift and Jack Ruark.

The 2017 scholarship winners sponsored by the Mary Ball Washington Chapter of the Freedoms Foundation recently participated in the annual Spirit of America Youth Leadership Conference at Valley Forge.

Middlesex High was represented by Jack Ruark, the winner of the Ruby Lee Norris Memorial Scholarship. Norris taught at Middlesex High for a number of years and was a founding member of the chapter. Ruark is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Rufus Ruark of Urbanna.

Northumberland High was represented by John Hancock, the son of Mr. and Mrs. David Hancock of Heathsville, and Zachary Swift, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Keith Swift of Reedville and Denzel Mitchell, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Donald Mitchell of Heathsville.

During an awards program, Mitchell won an affirmation award, reported education co-chairman Gerry Waring.

Lancaster High was not represented this year since no students were nominated, said Waring. The four scholarship winners are all members of the junior class and are taking U.S. History. Nominations are made by that teacher.

There were numerous activities during the four-day conference, he said. Motivational speaker, Ed Turzanski, whose parents were held in a prison camp in Poland during World War II stressed to the students the opportunities which freedom affords us and encouraged them to become active and informed members of their communities.

He emphasized that freedom must not be taken for granted; instead, it must be guarded by its citizens.

Other activities included a Free Enterprise Competition, a Mock Congress and a debate between two professional re-enactors portraying Jefferson and Adams who argued the fine points of the founding documents.

Tours included the Valley Forge National Park, adjacent to the Freedoms Foundation campus. Students were able to enter the reconstructed huts where Washington’s troops were encamped as well as touring Washington’s Winter Headquarters. While at the park, they also made stops at the statues of Baron von Steuben and Mad Anthony Wayne both of whom were important in the eventual success of the Continental Army.

The also toured the historic district of Philadelphia, including Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell Museum and Ben Franklin’s gravesite at Christ Church.

The students traveled by train to Philadelphia with their chaperone, chapter president Clark Waring.