Posted Date: 03/01/2018
On January 25th, 2018, five Porter National Honor Society Officers and two chaperones boarded an airplane at 5 a.m. for a trip of a lifetime to Washington D.C. for six days of unforgettable fun, learning and leadership. It was a trip of over 115,000 steps accumulated per person in those six days, but the journey actually started three months prior to the trip. The Porter High School National Honor Society Officers comprised of President Kailey Guinn (Junior), Vice President Drew Van Vors (Senior), Secretary Kasandra Ledezma (Junior), Treasurer Cameron Jay (Junior) and Reporter Kyrah Hytche (Junior) along with their sponsor, Mrs. Janet Wybrant began planning a leadership opportunity structured around the LEAD conference in the nation’s capital. The group wanted to attend the national conference to learn ideas and strategies to bring back to Porter Schools to continue to improve the school and develop leadership skills to enhance not only themselves, but the school groups in which they are involved in. To attend the conference and see many of the sights in D.C., the group needed to raise $10,000 in a very short time. The students worked with their parents, school and community to fundraise, host dinners and acquire donations to exceed their goal in less than 2 months. The five NHS officers along with trip sponsors Porter Schools Superintendent Charles McMahan and Porter Schools Counselor Jentri Guinn began their trip that lasted through January 30th.
The first day of the trip was busy as soon as the plane landed in Washington D.C. with a visit to the John F. Kennedy Center to watch the musical On Your Feet, the story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan. It was engaging and boisterous musical, that everyone in the audience on their feet. While around the JKF Center, the group also saw sights such as The Watergate Hotel and experienced their first Metro subway ride. Day two began bright and early with a tour of The White House, The White House Visitor Center, The Washington Monument, The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and The Smithsonian Castle. That evening began the opening session of the LEAD conference with guest speaker Keith Hawkins that motivated students to lead others by leading themselves first.
Day three was another day at the LEAD conference with multiple presentations and break-out sessions for the students to attend. The officer team attended informational sessions on goal setting, college admissions, student led dress code reform, cross cultural communication, collaboration among student groups, bullying, student and staff appreciation, and improving school climate. Two members of the NHS officer team, Kailey Guinn and Cameron Jay, were selected to attend an all-day session of Officer Leadership training to help improve their skills as officers on a leadership team and developing programs to benefit students. Trip sponsor Jentri Guinn said that this was one of her favorite parts of the trip watching the students from a small rural town interact with over 1,200 students from across the nation and work together to better prepare themselves for their future. “It was evident that there is a lot of hope and opportunities for these future leaders to make a difference.” A break from the conference that evening allowed the group to go to the Pentagon City mall, a four story mall!
The fourth day of the trip concluded the LEAD conference with a closing session in the morning in which the NHS officer team reflected on what they had learned and developed action steps for many of the ideas they want to implement at Porter Schools and within the community. After the conference, the group spent a rainy afternoon at Arlington National Cemetery. Visiting JFK’s eternal flame and observing the changing of the guard was a humbling, yet honorable. The group was fortunate to have three excellent tour guides throughout Arlington Cemetery that pointed out numerous points of interest and historical facts. Drew Van Vors, NHS Vice President enjoyed “Arlington Cemetery and touring the U. S. Capitol the most because they were both historical and educational.” After Arlington, the group had dinner at the entertaining Hard Rock in D.C.
The fifth day of the trip was another exhausting day but well worth the memories made. It began with a trip to Senator James Lankford’s office and a private tour of The Capitol building. The Rotunda and Statuary Hall were remarkable and every person in the group rubbed the foot of Will Rogers’s statue as legend says it is for good luck. The group was able to visit the House of Representative gallery and watch a brief session. Afterwards, a quick visit to The National Archives to see the displays of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence. The afternoon was eventful with a tour of Ford’s Theater and many of the monuments within the National Mall including the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, World War II Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, the Roosevelt Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. “I loved seeing our nation’s capital and taking part in this once in a lifetime experience. I enjoyed sight-seeing and learning the history of our country. My favorite part was touring the White House and Arlington National Cemetery” said Kailey Guinn, NHS President.
The last part of the trip was a night tour that made five different stops throughout Washington D.C. and many of the monuments and historical buildings. The night tour was a favorite part of the group because there was not near as much walking and the tour guide was beyond knowledgeable and knew just about every fact, including the measurements of every monument and statue in D.C. The group learned more from him in three hours than any history book could ever cover.
By Tuesday, January 30th, the exhausted group of seven made their journey back to Oklahoma, better and more equipped with leadership skills and appreciation of The United States of America. The National Honor Society officer team and trip sponsors would like to thank all of those that helped make this trip possible. It was a trip full of memories and opportunities that will allow these five students to become stronger leaders and positively influence their school and community.