Student's interest in history, politics, leads him to conference.


Kortlin Bean, a senior at Garden City High School, was one of only five Kansas students, and the only student from western Kansas, to be included in a National Youth Leadership conference in Washington, D.C., from June 29 to July 8.

Bean said he only learned that fact when the group of state students gathered to meet Kansas delegation office staffers during the trip.

Unfortunately, all of Kansas' Congressional members were back in Kansas for the Fourth of July break, so Bean didn't get to meet them.

"I was able to meet with their staff and talk to them, see how they run their offices," Bean said.

The youth leadership conference drew hundreds of students from across the United States to Washington to learn how Congress works and how the federal government operates.

"We weren't able to witness a Congressional debate because they were on recess at the time, but one of the simulations they had for us was they split us up into committees, and then the committees would work on amendments to a bill and try to get the entire leadership conference to approve the bill," Bean said.

Bean said the conference included guest speakers ranging from former Congressmen and national journalists, as well as tours of various institutions, museums and of the Capitol building. "It was a full schedule," he said.

To attend the conference, students had to be recommended by a teacher. Bean's application was made by Mark Calvin, former GCHS history teacher and new principal and athletic director at Satanta Junior-Senior High School.

Calvin thought the conference would be a good fit for Bean, who Calvin described as very driven in his interest in history, politics and social sciences.

"I saw leadership ability in him and thought this would be a great experience and kind of a boost forward in that arena," Calvin said. "He's an excellent student. He has a great sense of humor. He's upbeat about 90 percent of the time unless he's totally exhausted, and he works his head off at Freddy's (Frozen Custard). I'd love to have a whole classroom of Kortlin's."

Bean said it's pretty hard to choose what aspect of the Washington trip he enjoyed most.

"I really liked going to all the monuments and museums because I've just been real interested in history for a long time. But I'd always wondered how Congress works and how they pass laws, so being able to experience that was really cool and interesting to learn," he said.

In addition to history, Bean enjoys playing golf, hunting and is a part of the JROTC rifle team that is still being organized. Bean said he is mostly interested in U.S. history, particularly the Civil War and World War II eras.

"I have a strong interest in history. Every Memorial Day I go down and help with the living history at Fort Larned," he said.

Bean is looking forward to his final year in high school, but he is still trying to figure out what college to attend. So far, he's looking at Fort Hays State University, but hasn't really come to a conclusion about which institution offers the best route to his future career goals.

"I want to enter the military to be a chaplain," he said. "I've always been real into the military, and, I can't put it into any other words, I'm very religious. So I felt that would be the best place to go to in order to serve."