CV High student sees D.C.

Darleene Barrientos

When Searvart Diradourian saw the envelope addressed to her son,

Vartan, in the mailbox, she worried he might have gotten in trouble.

Then she noticed it was from Washington, D.C.

"I thought, 'Oh no, has he been that bad?' " she said, laughing.

Not to worry. The 15-year-old Crescenta Valley High School student

had earned a great honor. He was selected to join some of the

country's brightest students on a tour of the nation's capital to

learn leadership skills and how Congress passes laws.

"I think the leadership skills we learned are the best thing to

take away from it," Vartan said.

Vartan was one of about 350 students who were invited to the

capital to participate in the National Young Leaders Conference,

between June 21 and July 1.

Vartan's biology teacher, Denise Pogrofzewski, nominated him for

the trip. Pogrofzewski said she thought of him when she received the

information about the conference, which was open to students

graduating in 2005 and 2006.

"I thought of all my kids in here," Pogrofzewski said. "I thought,

'I know he's a sophomore -- excellent! This is a wonderful

opportunity for him to do something like this.' "

Vartan was required to wear a suit and tie each day. His group

heard from guest speakers like Rep. Anne Northup (R-Ky.), Washington

reporters, and a man who raised $22 million in a year to start a

school for low-income students.

The conference was not all work and no fun, though -- Vartan and

his fellow students watched Baltimore Orioles baseball games, were

given a day to visit the Smithsonian and Washington's museums, and

had a dance party on their last night.

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