WARRENSBURG She was on trial for releasing animals from a research facility, and she barely knew her own name.
Whitney Markwica was one of 300 kids from around the country to spend a week in Washington, D.C., this summer as part of the Junior National Young Leaders Conference. She was recommended for the program by her teacher Mrs. Grant. Whitney is going into 5th grade this year.
One part of the program was taking part in a mock trial, and Whitney was chosen to play the defendant.
We didnt get a lot of time to prepare, and I wasnt sure how to answer the questions when I was on the stand, but I was acquitted, she said.
The JNYLC looks for young people with six qualities; character, teamwork, respect, goal setting, problem solving and communication.
Every night we had to go to a conference in our hotel and work on one of the six qualities, she said. The students were split into groups where they did workshops and other tasks to study one of the six qualities.
Whitney went to Washington on July 14, driven there by her parents Mike and Kathy Markwica.
We stayed in another hotel and went our own way all week, Kathy said. It was Whitneys first trip alone.
The entire group took trips to several important historic sites such as Harpers Ferry, WV, where they were split into groups of mock soldiers with different tasks.
Our job was to walk around the river and find the dead bodies, she said. Some of the others went to find guns, and some were nurses and some were spies. The group learned a lot about John Brown and the Underground Railroad while there.
On another trip to Philadelphia, Whitney said she learned a lot about the First Amendment and freedom of speech, and one trip took them to a science museum in Maryland.
We watched Night in a Museum on the bus on the way there, Whitney said. Then we spent the night in the museum. My group slept in the human body room.
Dinner was at different restaurants, and Whitney said she liked the Hard Rock Cafe.
The waiters and waitresses got up on the tables and danced, she said.
The conference had different groups choose topics to study, and Whitneys group chose teen homelessness. They put together a presentation on their subject after doing research and preparation.
It was very scary for us, said Whitneys mom, Kathy. She had to be responsible for her money, cellphone, room key, purse, and camera. Whitney said she didnt lose anything, but preferred shopping with her parents.
I like shopping using their money, she said. Im not so good at it with my own.
The group toured many of Washingtons famous monuments, and Whitneys favorite was the Korean War Memorial.
No matter where you stand, there is someone looking at you, she said of the lifelike statues of soldiers. But the best part was making new friends. Her roommates were both named Alex, short for Alexis and Alexandra, and she made friends with kids from all over the country.