Leighton seeks to lead

Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A love for math and an inclination to lead are all that’s needed for a middle school student to be noticed.

Ten-year-old Leighton Folz is one of 10 Prince Edward Middle School students to be invited to attend the Junior National Young Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C., next summer. The fifth-grader said he can’t wait to take advantage of the opportunity.

His mother, Amy Wilson, said Leighton has always loved school. Now he will join fifth-, sixth- and seventh-graders from across the country for six days of learning in the nation’s capital.

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“I’ve been doing really, really (well) with all my grades and I’ve been told that I’m a good leader,” Leighton said.

These are the traits he believes qualified him for such an opportunity. When students in his class need help with a class or missed an assignment, Leighton is the first to offer help.

His favorite subject is math.

“I just like how it teases your brain and it messes with your brain,” Leighton explained.

The middle schooler enjoys more than just school. When not in class, he plays baseball and basketball. In fact, a recent slide into third base left Leighton with a broken leg. His camouflage cast hasn’t slowed him down a bit, though. He’s still making his way around school, helping out when he sees a need.

“I just like hanging out with my friends and learning things,” he said.

Wilson said sometimes in fourth grade, her son’s teachers would invite him to help his peers learn math concepts. Leighton loved the experience, but said when he first got pulled aside he was afraid he was in trouble.

Leighton has no small plans when it comes to his future. He either wants to play for Major League Baseball or work for a railroad. He’s not sure which yet. Though he does like math, he doesn’t want to be a mathematician.

“I like it, but not that much,” Leighton said.

For the time being, he’s most looking forward to learning how to be a better leader during the conference.

While there, he will listen to politicians such as Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney and hear inspirational success stories from people of all backgrounds.

Leighton mentioned he’s excited to learn from a wrestler, Anthony Robles, who only has one leg.

“He’s a three-time All American Wrestler,” Wilson explained.

When not attending lectures, Leighton will visit museums and historic sites in the capital. He said he’s most looking forward to going to the Smithsonian. One day while in D.C., students will spend the night at the Maryland Science Center. Leighton’s very excited about that.

In fact, Leighton and his mother got very excited when he found out he’d been invited to the program.

“I read it to him and I started crying. He never ceases to amaze me,” Wilson said.

Leighton said he hopes the opportunity will “help me build my leadership skills and to help me get even better grades,”

Though he is nervous because he’s never stayed this far from home on his own, Leighton is grateful to have been considered for this program.

He has a Go Fund Me account to help pay for the leadership conference. Those interested in donating can visit www.gofundme.com/leightons-trip-to-the-jrnylc.