Gilbert teen connects with community through civics lessons - East Valley Tribune: Gilbert

Gilbert teen connects with community through civics lessons

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Posted: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 6:45 am

Gilbert 16-year-old Caleb Alger earned a life-changing experience thanks to his efforts to teach young community members about their country’s history.

Alger, who attends American Leadership Academy in Queen Creek, was the only student to represent Arizona at the Hugh O’Brien Leadership Academy in February. According to its website, the Alabama-based academy connects high school juniors and seniors from across the country and strengthens their leadership skills. The academy curriculum is designed to help students develop a plan of action to lead a service or launch a social enterprise in their community.

“The HOBY Leadership Academy was a life-changing experience that gave me the leadership techniques to go back into my community and make a difference,” he said. He added it was great experience learning how to be a leader and being around others who strive to be a leader.

During his week-long stay, he created a program on constitutional studies, which is a passion of his. Alger’s interest started in a history class where he studied the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

As he learned more about the studies, Alger realized other students lack in-depth knowledge of those documents and how they pertain to their day-to-day lives.

“Many youth members do not know their own rights. They need to learn to stand up for themselves,” he said.

One way Alger shares his interest in American civics, as well as people who have served to protect those rights, is as a senior youth member and youth Marine master sergeant of the East Valley Youth Marines in Mesa. The Youth Marines program is a national nonprofit youth educational and service group for boys and girls age 8 through high school. It promotes the mental, moral and physical development of its members.

The program focuses on teaching the importance of leadership, teamwork and self-discipline so members can live and promote a healthy, drug-free lifestyle. Alger said the East Valley Youth Marines also teaches members the history of America, respecting veterans and others and how to become involved in community service, all of which fits in his sphere of interest.

As a sergeant, Alger’s role includes planning activities, running weekly meetings and instructing the color guard. He is the only one who is certified to teach recruits.

Alger’s long-term plan is to pursue a degree in nursing from Grand Canyon University, and his goal is to work as a neonatal nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, after graduation.

• Kelly Kleber is a senior at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She is an intern with the Tribune. Reach her at tribintern@evtrib.com.

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