OSWEGO, NY Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Oswego High School student Aaron Callahan said he is very appreciative of the community’s support.
Aaron was nominated to attend the Congressional Youth Leadership Council’s National Young Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C., March 23-28. He is only the third person in five years to be nominated and attend this conference of young leaders as an Oswego High School student.
He said he’s “Definitely excited. I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t wait for the conference.”
“The event is a civics, US history and government learning conference designed to identify, then give a glimpse of and further inspire the attending student to examine their level of desire to further pursue higher education and a career in these fields,” he explained.
What does he hope to get out of the conference?
“A first-hand enactment of our national leaders, national and international media relations. The study of actual Supreme Court cases, the model reenactment of a model Congress, and learning from and meeting this nation’s leaders,” he said.
He will also take part in seminars on public speaking, and how important it is to work with others in a team fashion.
“ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no sense reinventing the wheel. I will learn to use what works well for the country and support these laws and events. However, the only way to see whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s really in need of improvement to heal and see our nation prosper is to be right there,” Aaron said.
“The school classroom teaches us a great deal, but life is our best educator. School teaches us to be good followers, which is important as well. Usually everyone works for someone else. An event like this actually changes the focus by showing, teaching, and encouraging our leadership skills as well,” he added. “We are constantly taught: the youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow. So, shouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t leadership education and skills be important also?
While in Washington, Aaron will be meeting and learning from some of our nationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s highest officials; also with government officials responsible for Oswego, Central New York and New York State, his father pointed out.
The students have to raise money to cover the trip.
“The community has been wonderful; local schools, businesses, clubs, organizations and people have encouraged me through this valuable process of fundraising,” Aaron said.
The Oswego City-County Youth Bureau organized a fundraising night through Fajita Grill, which was very successful, his father said.
“The Oswego County Youth Advisory Council is sponsoring a Gertrude Hawk chocolate sale up through Easter to raise funds for my conference,” Aaron said.
The Oswego High School Key Club pledged a donation, as well.
Besides the Youth Bureau, Fajita Grill and Youth Advisory Council, Aaron has received interest and support from: The Leadership Oswego County Youth, Oswego ChildrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Board, Ancient Order of Hibernians, NCCC church – youth group, the Elks Club, Lake City Police Club and Canale’s Restaurant, his father said.
Also contributing were the offices of Dr. Callahan, Flanagan, & Smith in Fulton, Dr. Young Kim and Dr. Padma Ram of Oswego, Dr. AnthonyÃ‚Â Licatese, Video Paradise, Oswego Children’s Theater, and several private individuals, he added.
On March 22, Canale’s, 156 W. Utica St., (343-3540) will hold a special night for Aaron.
Buy any meal that day, dine-in, take-out, delivery or frozen dinners and CanaleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s will donate 20% for AaronÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s expenses for the conference.
A coupon must be presented at time of purchase to qualify. Coupons are available at the riverÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s end bookstore (West First and Bridge streets) and Oswego High School’s main and guidance offices.
“A state, nation, and local municipality need funds to do their job. I still have a ways to go on reaching my financial goal for the conference and its expenses,” Aaron said. “However, I have the CanaleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Restaurant fundraiser March 22 from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., which I hope will help a great deal. The Oswego County Youth Advisory Council is sponsoring a Gertrude Hawk chocolate sale that will help and a few organizations’ contributions are pending.”
After he is presented with his complete itinerary for the six-day conference, Aaron said he wants to visit places that might not be on the list.
“While this is a learning experience, and I expect us to be in the House of Representatives, Congress, the Senate, The Supreme Court and more, history plays an important part of our nationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s heritage and pride. A dedicated young leader needs to embrace our rich heritage,” he said. “So, I plan to see the Constitution. The Lincoln and Jefferson memorials, the Vietnam Wall, The Washington Monument and the White House, the Smithsonian, The Treasury and more!”
Aaron says that if the fundraising efforts exceed the exact expense of the conference, he will donate all remaining money to the Haitian Relief Fund.
“I feel with everyoneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s help I will be able to donate some money beyond my expenses to The Haiti Relief Fund,” he said. “My dad is helping and showing me there is an entire process, including a responsibility to the people and how important it is to keep accurate records on expenses, receipts, and donations collected.”