A Cinnaminson seventh-grader is in Washington, D.C., this week after being specially chosen to participate in a leadership conference, learning about debating, history and much more.
Justin Arnold, 12, is at the Junior National Young Leaders Conference, a program designed to provide young students with leadership skills.
Justin’s mother, Diana Martine, said she thinks the program will be “life-changing” for her son.
“I’m very proud of him and I just can’t imagine being 12 years old and getting an experience like that,” Martine said.
In only a couple days that he’s been down there, Justin and the other students learned about five centuries of news history at the Newseum. Martine said they learned about the role news plays in society with hands-on exhibits and the newest technology.
On Sunday evening, the students participated in a mock debate, discussing whether students should be allowed to wear peace patches to school. They did a study on First Amendment rights and used what they learned to argue their side.
Martine said Justin and the students also went to Harpers Ferry.
“They learned about slavery and its role in the development of the country,” Martine said.
Justin’s former teacher Michael Fries nominated him. And although Martine describes her son as a “science brainiac,” he’s interested in all topics.
“He’s a [seventh-grader] who loves school,” she said. “He watches the History Channel and stuff about wars. He asks a lot of questions. He’s definitely unique.”
Outside of school, the participates in track and swimming and wants to go to MIT after high school. He also recently applied for New Jersey Oraters, a group that is designed to help students with public speaking.
More than 250 high-achieving middle school students from across the United States are participating in the conference. Students are studying the impact of leadership throughout periods such as the Civil War and Reconstruction, World War II, the Great Depression and the Civil Rights Movement.
Stay with Patch as we interview Justin at the end of the week about his trip.