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Start the Presses: Youth leaders and responsibility

January 25, 2014|By Dan Evans, dan.evans@latimes.com
  • Dan Evans, Editor, Times Community News. Photographed on Tuesday , August 13, 2013.
Dan Evans, Editor, Times Community News. Photographed… (Roger Wilson / Staff…)

I woke up early Friday morning, my eyes blinking against the light and the sound of my alarm blaring in the predawn gloom. The balmy morning air gently woke me up as I made my way north to Glendale Community College.

(As a side note, is this warm weather as disconcerting to you as it is to me? I've turned on the air conditioning in my home three or four days this January, and have yet to touch the heat.)

About 100 students from Glendale and Burbank, accompanied by a phalanx of business people, educators and other community members gathered at 7:30 a.m. to take part in the annual Youth Leadership Conference.

The conference, which is put on by the local Character & Ethics Project — of which I'm a board member — gathers high schoolers from the surrounding area for a daylong gab fest on leadership as well as group activities meant to teach lessons about ethical decision-making.

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The conference began with the pomp and circumstance I've begun to believe come standard with a Glendale event: a flag salute led by the Crescenta Valley High School Air Force Jr. ROTC, the national anthem sung by a choir from Glendale High, and no less than six introductions and welcomes.

The main event, though, was the keynote speech given by Paul and Denise Fejtek, a couple whose athletic accomplishments would put most professional athletes to shame. The pair shared their experiences climbing the so-called Seven Summits — the highest peaks on the seven continents — culminating with their assent of Mount Everest.

These feats are all the more remarkable when you note that Paul Fejtek, who attended Hoover High, has essentially no use of his right hand due to a birth injury. I wrote about the couple a while back when they were at the Glendale library promoting their book “Steps to the Summit,” a copy of which was provided to the student attendees. If you haven't read it, I definitely recommend.

This was my third time in attendance but the first time I was handed the keys to my own group. I guess it took them that long to trust I wouldn't say anything too bizarre to impressionable minds. (I kid. I kid.)

The 20 or so members of my group filed into a GCC classroom to go through a series of group exercises on teamwork and relative versus absolute ethics.

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