It’s not every day a 14-year-old gets to attend the Presidential Inaugural Conference in Washington, D.C., but in January of 2013, that’s just what will happen.
Jacob VanDenBerghe, an eighth grade student at Norton Middle School, will get to join students from across the country and around the world to experience the Inauguration of the President of the United States. Jacob will also meet keynote speakers such as former U.S. Secretary of State and National Security Advisor to the President Dr. Condoleezza Rice, gain exclusive access to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, learn how experts use tactics and strategies to run winning campaigns, listen to a musical performance by The Capitol Steps and go to the Gala Inaugural Celebration dance.
“This will be a powerful experience, enabling him to interact with many prominent men and women whom most of us only read about or see in the news,” said Jacob's mother, Amy Anderson in an email to friends, family and neighbors. “Attending this program will enable him to further his interest in the field of politics and reach his career goals to someday be able to work In Washington D.C.”
This is not Jacob’s first trip to Washington D.C. In 2010, Jacob was selected by his Social Studies teacher Mrs. Nado to participate in the Jr. National Young Leaders Conference. During this trip, Jacob got acquainted with how the government functions, met with various politicians and dignitaries and hung out with the grandson of former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.
At the beginning of this year, Jacob got a letter saying he was picked as an alumni to go to the Presidential Inauguration because he kept his grades up.
“I can’t wait to go because of last time was just so much fun,” Jacob said. “Now I get to go again, hopefully.”
Jacob maintains honor roll status, and is involved in football, baseball, newspaper and youth group. Recently he was awarded Student of the Month at Norton Middle School for the third year in a row. Jacob enjoys tutoring sixth grade students in mathematics during his study period.
According to Jacob’s 11-year-old sister, Emma, he is also a World War II buff. Jacob’s favorite president is Franklin D. Roosevelt.
“Even through [tough] times, especially the depression, with the fireside chats, he would let them know that he’s there and you’re going to get through this,” Jacob said. “And he was a strong leader during the World War.”
The cost of the conference tuition is $3,195 and Jacob needs an additional $300 for travel costs. Through family, friends and neighbors, he has raised enough money to secure the $350 deposit. To help send Jacob to the conference, call Amy at 508-285-8710 or mail donations to Amy Anderson, 1 Robin Circle #1, Norton, MA 02766. The tuition must be paid by May 31.
“It’s hard. I’m a single mother of two,” Amy said who is attending Bridgewater State University to get a degree. “Money is tight, and there’s really not much money there. We’re scraping by.
“I know it’s a lot to ask of people, but I think if people can invest, it pays back dividends.”
To help raise money, the VanDenBergh Family will hold a yard sale Saturday, May 26 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the above address. Jacob will also be on hand to talk about his impending trip.
“We’ve gone through some really, really difficult times as a family, and I think you have to have hope and you have to have faith that somehow, somewhere down the line you get strength and you get some perseverance and it teaches you some lessons in life you can’t necessarily learn from a textbook, and you’ve got to hold on to that,” Amy said. “You can make a difference and you don’t have to let circumstances dictate your future.”