Jan. 14, 2009
Missouri Academy scholar to attend inaugural
When most 17-year-old boys need a tuxedo, say for the prom or their sister's wedding, they rent one. But Alex Mannion, a first-year student at Northwest's Missouri Academy of Science, Mathematics and Computing, has his own black-tie rig hanging in the closet. After all, when you're going to an inaugural gala for the president of the United States, it pays to look sharp.
Mannion, the son of Diane and Michael Mannion of Grain Valley, is one of an elite group of teenagers nationwide who have been invited to attend President-elect Barack Obama's inaugural celebration Jan. 20 as part of the Presidential Youth Inaugural Conference.
All of the invitees were recommended by teachers or school officials and are also alumni of one of several programs sponsored by the Congressional Youth Leadership Program, such as the Junior National Young Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C., which Mannion attended the summer preceding his seventh-grade year.
When he returns to Washington this Saturday as a member of the PYIC contingent, Mannion will attend a series of inaugural events, including presentations and speeches by such world figures as former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Nobel Prize laureate and former Vice President Al Gore and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who received the Nobel Prize for his work in dismantling apartheid in South Africa.
Other luminaries scheduled to address conference scholars are Doris Kearns Goodwin, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and author of "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln," and Lisa Ling, a television correspondent for the National Geographic Channel and former co-host of "The View."
On Inauguration Day itself, Mannion and his conference colleagues will enjoy private access to the Smithsonian Institution on the National Mall, attend the inauguration, view the inaugural parade as it proceeds down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House and tour a number of monuments and museums. That evening, they will attend an exclusive black-tie inaugural gala.
Mannion, who attended St. Mary's School in Independence before being accepted into the Missouri Academy, is within a few flight hours of completing his private pilot's license and wants to major in aerospace engineering after graduating from the academy next year. He then hopes to serve as either an Air Force or Navy pilot and ultimately fly for a major airline.
His father, Michael, works as an airplane mechanic for American Airlines, and his mother, Diane, is a continuing education coordinator for Metropolitan Community Colleges in Kansas City.
Active as a cadet in the Civil Air Patrol, Mannion is also a member of the Missouri Academy's robotics team. His courses at Northwest this semester include chemistry, calculus, a survey of government and politics and composition.
The Missouri Academy of Science, Mathematics and Computing is an accelerated, two-year residential program for students academically talented in science, mathematics or technology and replaces the junior and senior years of traditional high school.
Academy students take a demanding series of courses taught by University professors and, upon graduation, receive an associate of science degree and a high school diploma.
For more information, go to www.nwmissouri.edu/masmc .
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