Josie Bovee, age 12, has built experience as a leader in her time at Monticello Middle School and earlier at Little Mountain Elementary, where she was a peer mediator in fourth grade and school safety guard in fifth grade. The dedication she has shown through sixth grade led middle school teachers to nominate Josie for a select leadership program, the Junior National Young Leaders Conference that meets annually in Washington, D.C.
She was accepted for the honor, but first she had to finish some extra work at home. She was required to write and submit an essay on one of her leaders, and she selected Kim Nygaard, a Little Mountain fifth-grade teacher and Monticello High School cross-country and track coach. Also, to finance the trip, Josie had to seek some donations from area groups and businesses. In addition to help from family, friends and neighbors, she received support from VFW Post 8731, SISU Automotive, and the Monticello Pet Hospital, where she and her parents, Roger and Kelly, and her siblings, Cole, 15, and Julia, 8, bring the family dogs, “Duke,” a black Lab, and “Miki,” a Golden Retriever.
“She did her little speech (for potential donors), shook hands and told them what her trip was all about,” Kelly Bovee said of her daughter’s experience. “We knew (it would be) a good experience for her, and we would do whatever we could to make it happen.”
Coach Nygaard said Josie had undersold her leadership experience and abilities before the trip. “She is an amazing student, and what a kind-hearted kid. You never see her down – she’s always smiling,” said the teacher, who noted that Josie has been a three-sport athlete and team leader in volleyball, gymnastics and softball. “She has been a leader to a lot of younger girls. They have looked up to her.”
Josie spent a week this summer in Washington with more than 250 other junior leaders, touring sites such as the National Museum of American History, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, the Capitol building and many monuments and memorials. They did not enter the White House, but walked past it on tour. Josie reports that some of her favorite moments included seeing a section of the Berlin Wall and a memorial on Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the Newseum, which bills itself as Washington’s “most interactive museum.”
“It was a lot of fun,” Josie said. “We got to learn about history.”
And, regardless which candidate wins election to lead the nation as president through the next four years, Josie and her parents have been invited back through the program for Inauguration Day next January, though maybe planning for one trip to the capital is enough for one year. “I don’t think we’ll make it,” Kelly said.
By Paul Rignell