Leader of tomorrow

PHOTO PROVIDED Elliott McKelvey (front row, center) and his Community Action Plan team attended the Ambassador Leadership Summit at Harvard Law School.­­

Nominated to attend the Ambassador Leadership Summit, Elliott McKelvey, eighth grader at St. John Neumann Regional Academy (SJNRA), had the opportunity to go to Harvard Law School for their Summit from June 26 to July 2, he said.

Students from around the world, like “Mexico, South Africa, India,” came together at the Ambassador Leadership Summit to brainstorm, learn about teamwork, grow as individuals and develop their personal skills, Elliott and the Ambassador Leadership Summit said.

During the week, students had to create a community action plan to bring back to their towns. Students can choose what topic they want to work with. Elliott and his group developed an action plan for suicide prevention, he said. To help raise awareness, their group said they could use posters for visuals to raise awareness and encourage people with the positives in life.

Each group had to present their community action plans in front their peers, said Beth McKelvey, Elliott’s mother. For the presentation, Elliott helped create the slides.

“They want these kids to be a part of the solution for the future,” Beth said. “It’s about being a leader and … making good choices.”

The Summit was informative, stimulating, exciting and very educational, Elliott said. He also participated in team-building and trust exercises; visited the Hale Reservation and toured Boston, the Harvard campus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the JFK Library. The Hale Reservation teaches students about nature and incorporating that in teamwork.

From leadership exercises, Elliott has learned the importance of being a proactive leader instead of a reactive leader, he said. A proactive leader gets things done quickly, whereas a reactive leader will wait and follow up. For the new school year, he plans on being a more proactive leader and incorporating his leadership skills to his academics.

Students had the chance to listen to motivational

speaker Sunjay Nath about how “it doesn’t matter who you are and who others are … It matters if you believe in yourself and if you can work with other people,” Elliott said.

To celebrate their hard work and new friendships, students celebrated their time at the Summit with a dance in Boston Harbor on a cruise boat, Elliott and Beth said.

About 250 kids attended the Harvard Summit. There are different sessions during the summer, Beth said. Students from sixth to 12th grade can attend and are grouped based on age. Groups typically had 12 to 14 students, Elliott added.

Before attending the Summit, Beth connected with parents on Facebook whose children were planning on attending the Harvard Summit. From this, Elliott gained two pen pals, Sara, from Quakertown, and a boy from Texas. He was excited to meet his friends he had been writing to.

“He really blossomed,” Beth said. The Summit helped “foster that spark that he has for academics.”

To attend the Leadership Summit, a student must be nominated to attend, Elliott said. Elliott was nominated by John Litchfield, 7th grade honors English teacher at SJNRA, and received a second recommendation from Nicole Bartholomew, geography and technology teacher at SJNRA, Beth said.

“This seemed like a place where I would belong and where I would mesh with other students my age and, also, it seemed like a great educational opportunity,” Elliott said.

He has received a lot of support from his teachers from both SJNRA and West Branch, where Elliott attended for six years, Beth said.

When the nomination to attend the Summit came, the McKelvey’s were surprised and the more they looked into the program, they knew Elliott had to attend before he got busier in his teenage years, Beth said.

“Anybody who is nominated to go to the Summit, take the chance. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that people just love to do and the people care about you. It’s just a world of excitement and learning,” Elliott said.