Follow the leader
What’d you do this summer? Take in the Tribe? Hit the beach?
Or did you spend a week discussing current events with Washington D.C.’s top policy makers? If you’re Mac Hertz, an eleven year-old from St. Ann School, you did.
Mac was one of a select group of fifth and sixth graders from across the nation invited to take part in the Junior National Young Leaders Conference (JrNYLC) for a week this past June. The JrNYLC is a program that simulates real-world problems for tomorrow’s young leaders to creatively solve. In one week, Mac:
- explored and applied leadership traits (character, communication, goal setting, problem solving, respect, and teamwork);
- learned to use his “voice” to stand up and make a difference;
- created a social organization to make an impact on his community; and
- debated and negotiated First Amendment rights.
Consideration for JrNYLC is based on a student’s grades, leadership abilities, and the recommendation of a teacher. Even though Mac was in fifth grade at the time, it was his kindergarten teacher from Saint Ann School, Barb Nicoletti, who submitted his name for consideration. “Ms. Nic probably just picked me because my sister, Sadie, was in her class last year. Sadie’s smallish, and I have to help her a lot. So Ms. Nic saw me taking care of my sister.”
Mac’s modesty aside, it’s most likely his “team-first” philosophy that honed his leadership skills. Whether it’s basketball, football, baseball, or track, he reveals a calm leadership for his teammates to follow. “I try to take care of my teammates…I try to cheer them up. We can all get better if we practice harder.” Mac’s mom, Amy, agrees. “Mac’s always shown a great deal of leadership and maturity, and his dad and I knew this would be an amazing opportunity for him.” Mac thanks his mom and dad, David, for guiding him this far in his journey. “My mom runs [Swoosh Sports and Recreation], and she’s shown me that if you strive to do something, you can get it done. And my dad is always there for my sister, my brother, Ryan, and me.” His teachers at Saint Ann get credit, too. Without them, he affirms, he wouldn’t have learned “how to get things done and to try my best.”
Mac’s favorite part of the D.C. journey was his visit to the Lincoln Memorial. “Abraham Lincoln wasn’t afraid to fight for other people and how they were mistreated. He helped them, no matter what it took,” Mac proudly but quietly asserts.
Stephanie Applegate is a life-long resident of Cleveland Heights and the mother of two boys. She also currently serves on the board of Heights Community Congress.