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Sun Valley student learns leadership in Washington D.C.
by Jessica Garcia
Jul 14, 2008 | 695 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
At 11 years of age, Vance Corum wants to volunteer at convalescent hospitals and senior centers by playing the piano. Currently, he performs for Sparks' United Methodist Church and also plays the cello. The aspiring musician is a good student and has a good deal of ambition to become a professional in the music world.

This week, Vance is receiving an education he'll never forget at the nation's capital this week that will teach him valuable skills for advancing his future.

Vance, a sixth-grade student at Lois Allen Elementary School in Sun Valley, was accepted into the Junior National Leadership Conference and is representing his age group in the state of Nevada.

"I'm very excited to be representing the state of Nevada's youth," the student said. "I will have the experience of a lifetime for someone my age with a White House photo opportunity."

The program invites students who are high achievers in their academics and demonstrate leadership qualities. It's a rare opportunity for local students, especially from Sun Valley, said Jeff Batavia, Vance's sixth-grade teacher.

"I've never been on the trip and I've never had a student go all the way (through the program)," Batavia said.

The conference is meant to expose kids to the political realm and develop leadership skills. While in Washington D.C., Vance said the students likely would see the Washington Monument and Lincoln and Jefferson memorials. He said he wasn't sure if they would be allowed to enter the White House because of security purposes, but the trip would still be informative and allow students to make friends with other kids from other states.

Batavia said Vance is "just one of those kids who, it doesn't matter school you work at, he'd be a good student anywhere."

Batavia said Vance, a straight-A honor roll student, consistently turned his work in on time and has a maturity level "beyond teenager years."

"He's still a pre-teen, but he's a great kid and works hard," Batavia said.

Batavia said the families of students nominated for a program like this often shoulder the cost themselves. It costs students about $1,900. The Corums worked on a fundraising campaign to try to earn sponsorships from other businesses and received $200 from Sun Valley's Hobey's Restaurant and Casino. The Corums had to pay the rest on their own. They said they had hoped to receive more community support but were grateful for what they did receive.

Debbie Corum, Vance's mother, said the program's administrators "prefer parents don't go along so it helps develop confidence at this age."

She said she was nervous about letting him go but that it benefit his personal and intellectual growth. As a piano player, he already takes initiative when he serves others through his music.

"When I watch him perform or get up in front of the church for recitals, he just wants to be the center of attention," she said. "His little brother is 4 (years old) and he has a keyboard and Vance is already teaching his brother, 'Don't pound on it.' He's also trying to teach me."

Vance, who will go on to Trainer Middle School in the fall, said although his passion is music, he felt the trip would help him get his foot in the door to do other things.

"A pianist is who I am now and what I will be well-known and remembered for in my life, just as Beethoven was in his day," he said. "There is no audience too big or too small for me to enjoy playing for."
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