North Middle School student Briannon King will join a who's who of U.S. leadership for the inauguration of President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C.
King, 13, will be among more than 800 middle school students from across the nation witnessing history firsthand Jan. 21. The opportunity comes to any alum of the Junior National Young Leader Conference, in which King participated over the summer.
"I never thought this would actually happen. It's pretty cool I have this chance," King said.
Her proud mother agrees.
"She was very excited about getting to see the president for one and then especially the inauguration of the president," Misty Moore said. "It's like a once in a lifetime chance. There's not a lot of people who get to go see that.
"I think it's going to make her leadership skills a lot stronger, and being able to meet all the prominent people that's she's going to meet, I think that's going to get her a step into getting those scholarships for college," Moore said. "It's going to look really good on her applications and everything."
Since her week of honing leadership skills at JrNYLC, King believes she has grown a lot.
Once shy about public speaking, King said she is now more confident conversing on issues close to her heart.
"It helped me interact more with other people, better communicate and stand up to the issues that we have in our schools and community as well," she said. "What I've probably most likely changed in is standing up in front of people because we learn how to communicate and stand up in front of a crowd.
"It will help me for jobs. I can put it on my application to get scholarships in colleges and help stand up with more issues that come in the future," she added.
During the five-day program, the Middle School Presidential Inaugural Conference will take a deeper look into the history behind the electoral process and the rich tradition surrounding the event.
"The Presidential Inaugural Conference will provide students with an opportunity to take part in historic events that coincide with the Inauguration of the President of the United States," Marguerite Regan, dean of academic affairs for the conference, said. "Something that is really wonderful about so many young people gathering in Washington, D.C., for this event is that it will provide them a chance to become more familiar with and attuned to the president who will govern our country over the next four years. We certainly hope this will inspire the next generation of U.S. leaders."
Participants will also hear about growing up in the first family and will attend a special viewing party and luncheon where they will watch the inaugural parade as the president, vice president and their families make their way in motorcades down Pennsylvania Avenue from the U.S. Capitol to the White House.
The group will also attend an exclusive Gala Inaugural Celebration at National Harbor, participate in mock debates and expand their knowledge of democratic principles and the presidential election process.
"Many times students who are going, they are first generation that has been able to do that," Jeff Jacoway, admissions counselor with the conference, said. "Aside from being a part of history, it's got to leave a special feeling with them, and then on the education side as far as what they do with the curriculum.
"It's not just a trip to D.C. and sightseeing," he said. "They are really focused on the presidential side on what they do. It's still a learning conference."
As a JrNYLC alum, King has the opportunity to attend the High School or College Presidential Inaugural Conference in future years.
Though these types of events are somewhat unfamiliar territory for her daughter, Moore said she believes the opportunities, along with recent volunteer efforts with Shangri-La Therapeutic Academy of Riding and the Loudon County Animal Shelter, have molded the 13-year-old in many positive ways.
"I think it shows her responsibility for one. It kind of gives her an outlook into what work is going to be, being you have to be there at a certain time, certain days. It gives them more responsibility," Moore said.
It isn't the first time she has been honored for her perfect 4.0 grade point average throughout her school tenure. She was awarded the Young Achievers Award, Who's Who Among Honor Students, Good Citizenship Award through the Loudon County Sheriff's Office Kids Academy, All-American Scholar, Young Achievers Classroom Award and is a member of the Junior National Honor Society.
King hopes to become a detective or forensic scientist one day.
Though she said she appreciates neighbors' donations to fund her trip to the nation's capital, the family still needs another $2,000 for conference tuition. King will be selling baked goods to raise funds and said she is willing to help with housework, yard work, dog sitting or baby sitting.
To help, call Misty Moore at 865-679-2164 or donate to the Briannon King fund at SunTrust Bank. King's tuition must be paid no later than Dec. 31.