By MATT CRANE
After only a year in Starkville, C.J. Gibson is making her mark in the community.
Gibson was recently nominated to attend the 2012 Junior National Young Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C. by her fifth grade teacher, Sandra Gillespie.
“She is such a wonderful student,” Gillespie said. “She’s enthusiastic about learning and very adventurous.”
Gibson moved with her family from Missouri this time last year, an experience Gibson said was difficult at the start.
“It was hard at first, but I’ve made a lot of friends,” Gibson said. “It’s been a great journey.”
Gibson said she was surprised to be nominated, but Gillespie said she knew there was something special about the student.
“In her first nine weeks, she was in our ‘Henderson’s Best,’” Gillespie said. “As much as this honor deals with academics, they really stress teamwork and citizenship, which C.J. has showed in the classroom.”
Gillespie said Gibson’s family has been vital to her success in school.
“Her parents and sister are such huge supporters,” she said. “It’s just an honor and a privilege to work with her.”
Kayla Gilmore, owner of KMG Creations, teaches dance to Gibson and said she could not be prouder of her student.
“C.J. has been with me for almost a year, and it’s such an honor to be a supporter,” Gilmore said. “She’s really shining a great light on our school district and community.”
Gilmore said she pushes her students to excel academically, requiring every student to maintain a B average to join her group.
“I want my students to do well in school,” Gilmore said. “But I think most importantly it’s about building up their self-esteem, especially our young females.”
Family and school officials gathered Monday at the Starkville Sportsplex to hear Mayor Parker Wiseman deliver a proclamation in Gibson’s honor.
Wiseman said he is proud of Gibson for the positive light she is shining on the Starkville community and excited about her representing the city at a national level.
Henderson Principal Timothy Bourne said he saw Gibson’s potential from the beginning.
“I knew she was going to be a great kid,” Bourne said. “She’s a model student.”
Gibson begins the week-long conference Friday where she will take part in educational activities and presentations, studying about the importance and impact of leadership in our nation’s history.
The trip to Washington, D.C. marks Gibson’s first visit to the capital, and she said she is excited about seeing the historic sites the city has to offer.
“I really want to go to the Washington Monument,” Gibson said. “It’s my favorite.”
To read more about the conference Gibson will be attending, visit http://www.cylc.org .