By Ryan Lengerich
Two Yucca Junior High students have been selected for an elite leadership conference in Washington set for March.
Tyler Fontenot, 13, and Zach Zurzolo,12, will attend the Junior National Young Leaders Conference in the nation’s capital along with 200 middle school students from around the country.
The seventh-graders will tour historic landmarks, participate in educational activities and listen to presentations. The conference is conducted by the Congressional Youth Leadership Council, a nonprofit Washington-based organization.
The students were nominated by their physical science teacher Gabriel Apodaca, who is in his 10th year of teaching at the school. Apodaca said he has nominated students in past years but has not had students selected.
“You see that aura around certain kids as a leader — and they have that,” Apodaca said. “It is quite a big honor.”
Tyler has lived in Clovis about seven years and never been to Washington. He said his favorite school subject is mathematics and he is currently taking a pre-algebra class with eighth-grade students. He said he isn’t nervous about the opportunity.
“I plan on learning what being a leader means and I am really excited about seeing all the monuments,” Tyler said. “My goal is to meet President George W. Bush.”
Apodaca nominated seven students for the conference. He said Tyler and Zach were initially considered based on their high academic averages, but their leadership skills and personality were the determining factor.
“Tyler is somewhat soft spoken but knows when there is a task at hand and takes it in stride and is not afraid to take command,” Apodaca said. “He is also a very courteous young man.”
Zach has lived in Clovis all his life and has also never visited Washington. He said his favorite school subject is history.
“I love learning about ancestors and all the people before us,” Zach said. “I think we are going to learn a lot about memorials and how to be a good leader.”
Apodaca said Zach’s personality is far different from Tyler’s, but he makes an equally good young leader.
“Zach is a talker and he is not afraid to share his opinion, which I feel is a leadership skill sometimes,” Apodaca said. “He is also very respectful and I believe that comes from in the home.
“I think it will be a good experience because they will get to meet kids from other areas.”
Parents: Robyn Fontenot of Clovis, Joel Fontenot of Taos.
Favorite subject: Math
Favorite athlete: John Elway
Favorite Sport: Golf
Hobby: Collects football cards
Favorite college: Louisiana State University
“I am trying to become a professional golfer because I have golfed for 10 years.”
Information on the students:
Parents: Debbie and Greg Zurzolo of Clovis.
Favorite subject: History
Favorite athlete: Michael Jordan
Favorite sport: Basketball
Hobby: Rides and races motorcross bikes
Favorite college: Duke University
“I would like to go to college to play basketball.”