Columbia girls to attend national student leadership conference

Thursday, June 16, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:19 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

Columbia, your future leaders are in the making: Xiaoke “Jessica” Cui and Jamie Andes, both 14 and ninth-graders this fall at West Junior High School, will get leadership advice this month from motivational speakers such as Oprah Winfrey.

Both girls were selected to attend the 69th annual National Association of Student Councils National Conference, June 25-29 in Collinsville, Ill.

Jessica and Jamie, who will be among 1,800 participants from across the country, are the first Columbia students to attend the conference in the collective memory of people related to the event.

“This is a very prestigious event to go to. It’s all about kids and building leadership,” said John Jacobs, who teaches eighth-grade science at West and advises the student council.

Missouri can send 50 students to the conference. West’s student council used fundraisers to come up with half of each girl’s $345 fee; their families are paying the rest.

Jessica and Jamie were selected by faculty members and advisors largely for their leadership potential, Jacobs said.

“They take charge and want to improve the school for all students,” said Jacobs.

“I want a leadership role in the future, like owning my own business or running for office,” said Jessica, who holds a first-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, a mar-tial art, and placed first this year in Missouri’s Science Olympiad competition.Jamie said she wants to learn how to be a better leader. “I’m honored to represent my school and excited for the experience,” she said. Jamie dances and performs in Theater Reaching Young People and Schools, or TRYPS. She will perform this summer in a production of “Footloose.”

The conference will emphasize leadership and citizenship. Workshops will include making teddy bears for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. A trip to the Arch in St. Louis is also planned.

Both girls have just completed their first year on West’s 94member student council. The group has participated in philanthropic activities such as a talent show to raise money for the Central Missouri Food Bank and making blue ribbon pins for Columbia Officer Molly Bowden, a graduate of the school who died this year after she was shot in the line of duty.

Jamie plan to serve on the council next year. Jessica wants to run for president.

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