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'It's one of my biggest academic achievements' Herrin teen one of two Illinois students chosen for national leadership conference Honor.

Byline: JOHN HOMAN Managing Editor

HERRIN -- Herrin High School junior Maria Camarato is one of only two Illinois students and 100 nationwide selected by the American Veterans (AMVETS) National Service Foundation to participate in the annual Spirit of America Youth Conference in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, Nov 1-4.

The four-day conference, according to the AMVET website, includes topics such as freedom, civil rights and civic responsibilities, citizenship, public policy, self-development and leadership, entrepreneurship and salient aspects of American history.

Programs allow students to explore within themselves their interpersonal characteristics and leadership potential through leadership skills workshops, group skills activ

ities and discussions with fellow participants.

Programs are designed to provide an opportunity for students to participate in discussions with authoritative and articulate representatives from government, industry and the academic community.

"I'm really excited about going," Camarato said. "It's one of my biggest academic achievements. It (the conference) will be an opportunity to learn a lot about our governmental process."

Camarato said her absence from regular classes at Herrin will not be considered unexcused as the conference is deemed an academic experience.

"I've not been to Valley Forge before. It should be a lot of fun," she said.

Camarato comes from a long line of Navy veterans. Her great-grandfather on her mother's side was in World War I. Her grandfather was in World War II. Her aunt and uncle both served in the Navy for 50 years together and she has two cousins who are active duty Navy now. Her great-grandfather, Joe Camarato, was an Army lifer.

The 16-year-old possesses a 4.0-plus grade-point-average at HHS and is active with the math and scholar bowl teams, as well as drama and French clubs. She was selected by AMVETS through an application process.

All invitees are encouraged to bring something that represents their state and then swap out with other students. Camarato said she will bring with her lapel pins in the shape of Illinois with a reference to Herrin as her hometown and Springfield as the capital. She purchased extra pins and plans to sell them with any proceeds raised going directly to the Illinois AMVETS organization in Springfield.

The Spirit of America Youth Conference has existed since 1987. The goal is for the conference to give young people a better appreciation of their freedoms granted by the United States Constitution.

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Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Article Type:Conference news
Geographic Code:1U3IL
Date:Oct 26, 2018
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