Ella Harper-Schiehl returns from Young Leadership Conference


Ella Harper-Schiehl is a leader and inside a week, she studied leadership, saw the sights in Washington, D.C and made many new friends.

Ella, who will be entering sixth grade in the fall at Riverview Grade School in Silver Lake, spent a week in June, as a participant in the Junior National Young Leadership Conference in Washington. She was nominated to represent Riverview School because of her academic achievements, leadership potential, maturity, and independence.

Her participation required paying a $2250 fee, which Ella raised through marketing and selling her baked goods and handmade crafts, such as bookmarks and coffee mug charms.

“It took me three months to raise $3000 and there were days I would cry because I just didn’t think it would be possible to do,” she said. “After all, I still had to make a project for the conference, and balance my music and school work. When I finally reached my goal, I was so happy; and some mornings, I would wake up early because I was so excited to go.”

Her perseverance paid off, and in addition to having the opportunity to learn about leadership by studying the leaders of the past, Ella learned about  social advocacy to make a positive impact in her home and community. Through studying a variety of historical periods and characteristics of leadership, Ella and the other 238 students gained a better understanding of what it takes to become an effective leader.

“I came back changed because when I first went there, I thought that being a leader was being in control, but it is not necessarily being in control, but being able to change the world,” she said. “Being a leader is not about bossing people around, but by finding a means to guide people to get the results you want.”

During her stay at the Kirkland Conference Center in Silver Springs, MD, Ella and the other junior NYLC students took field trips to see attractions such as the Newseum, Capitol Hill, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Museum of American History and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, to name just a few.

“We got to see a 4D movie,” she said. “It was neat. It was like a 3D movie with glasses, but the chairs moved too. So, if you were watching a roller coaster, the chairs would move at different times. It was really neat.”

The students also took a bus trip to Harper’s Ferry in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. The students learned about Brown’s life story and discussed his leadership characteristics.

The best part of the trip was the opportunity to spend a real “Night at the Museum.” Students were able to explore the inner workings of the Maryland Science Center, bring their sleeping bags and stay overnight.

“We explored all over the museum for a few hours and then got to spend time in the gift shop,” she said. “In the morning, we left for home.”

The organization’s website says that the JrNYLC’s goal is to “help scholars develop and sharpen their leadership skills by examining the leaders of the past and empowering them to make a positive social impact in their community and the world.”

According to Ella’s mother, Michelle Schiehl, she knew when Ella got off the plane, that her daughter was not the same little girl who left just a week ago.

“She looked different, and acted much more confidant,” she said. “It was mind-boggling the changes in her. For her whole life, we have taken care of everything for her. We made sure she would get to bed on time, wake up on time, get in the shower, etc, and she and her two roommates had to do all that on their own. She is much more responsible now.”

The changes were not only apparent with Michelle, but Ella’s friends have noticed a difference as well.

“My friend Amber said that I when I got back and started going to summer school classes that I have become more of a leader,” she explained. “I am not stepping back anymore and letting others handle things in our cooking class. If there is something going wrong, we have to fix it. I am kind of helping people more and more and trying to be a leader now that I am back from the trip.”

While it is too soon to know what the future holds for Ella, one thing is for certain, she knows that she can achieve anything she sets her mind on doing.

“I know that I will be able to go to any college I want, not just an affordable one,” she said. “And I am motivated to influence my community. I didn’t think an 11-year-old kid could really influence a big community, but now I know I can, because I have heard stories of those who did.”



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