Local middle school student to attend leadership conference

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By Mallory Bilger

Lilli Hanik is one of those students that many teachers would describe as wise beyond her years.

She is not impressed with the glitz and glamour of popularity and clearly recognizes opportunities for self improvement. This month, the Spencer County Middle School incoming eighth grader will get to spend six days doing just that – improving her strong leadership attributes that have set her apart from many of her peers.
From June 17-22, Hanik will join scores of other students her age for the Junior National Young Leaders Conference – sponsored by the Congressional Youth Leadership Council – in Washington DC. She was nominated for the program by her SCMS Academic Team Coach Michelle Gross, who describes Hanik as an independent, thoughtful and well-rounded student who displays the potential to be a strong leader.
“Middle schoolers are so impressionable, and many will opt to follow the crowd,” Gross said. “Lilli, however, makes her own decisions and has a voice of change. I am impressed by her courage and strong will.”
Hanik said she was excited about the program when her information packet arrived in the mail, but the application was daunting. Hanik had to tediously describe her character, academic achievements and other attributes to convince program coordinators she was a good fit for the program.
“It was a huge package,” she said. “It’s an invitation in the most insanely awesome but scary format it could come in.”
Hanik will have the opportunity to tour several national landmarks, visit museums and learn about some of America’s greatest historical leaders. She said leadership history would be a big component in the trip.
“I hope to strengthen my leadership attributes that my teacher has seen in me. I want to learn new leadership techniques and guide people in a more efficient way,” she said.
Hanik’s mother, Kim, attested to the fact that her daughter has worked hard to make the trip a reality. She said she is very excited her daughter has the opportunity to attend the conference, although she does get a bit nervous thinking of her being away for several days.
“I think it is a great honor for her,” Kim said, noting she wanted to support her daughter’s endeavor to expand her educational opportunities.
Gross said Hanik’s character set her apart as a stellar candidate for the conference.
“The Junior National Young Leaders Conference asks mature, high-achieving middle school students to focus on ways to make an impact in their community. Lilli is a good fit for this program because her willingness and maturity are what it takes to get her started in impacting Spencer County,” Gross said.
Hanik said she is extremely excited to meet like-minded middle schoolers who hope to accomplish great things in their schools, communities and in the world.
“I don’t get super excited about things. This excited me because it’s a conference and it’s cool because it’s something that I’ve never been able to do before,” she said.
Hanik is already making her mark on SCMS and the community. She is involved in the academic team, Future Problem Solving, band, chorus, the journalism club, plays violin, and is a member of the local 4-H chapter.
Hanik is still working to pay the $3,000 needed to participate in the trip. That cost includes travel, meals and spending money. Anyone in the community wanting to support Hanik is encouraged to call 502-477-0284 or email kimhanik222@att.net. For additional information about the program, visit www.cylc.org/jrnylc.