Teen summit focuses on education, leadership

DeBorah Little (left) and delegate Nila Griffin, 15, talk to Federal Way students who attended a teen summit Jan. 13.  - Andy Hobbs/The Mirror
DeBorah Little (left) and delegate Nila Griffin, 15, talk to Federal Way students who attended a teen summit Jan. 13.
— image credit: Andy Hobbs/The Mirror

A quote from the late Martin Luther King Jr. helps illustrate the goal of a Federal Way teen summit bearing his likeness: "The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically... Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education."

At least 85 high school students from across Federal Way soaked up lessons in leadership, math, careers and peer pressure during the 2010 MLK Jr. Leadership High School Summit, held Jan. 13 at Best Western/Evergreen Inn. About 12 adult chaperones from the school district also helped. Students shared stories of personal success, and a handful of local professionals chatted with students in a "speed networking" activity covering careers in business, medicine, media and information technology.

The summit was started five years ago by Ron Walker, former longtime organizer of the city's MLK celebration. Walker is pleased with the way students have embraced the summit and its message. Several students who attended last year's summit returned this year as delegates to help run the event and its presentations.

"The cool thing is that we have more synergy, more young people who understand what's going on," said Walker, who appreciated the hotel's support for the event.

Emily Delp, a student at Federal Way Public Academy, found motivation in speeches delivered by her peers at the summit.

"It does inspire me to set my own goals and plan ahead," she said of the summit's message.

DeBorah Little, an organizer for the event, will visit student delegates twice a month throughout the school year to discuss leadership opportunities, grades and "paying it forward." She encouraged students to share with others what they learned at the summit.

"I'm feeling good about it happening again next year and I'm always looking for ideas on how to improve it," Little said. "The whole message of the day and participation of the students — I loved it."

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