Smithson Valley student earns the 'gold'

Will participate in

a June leadership program

By Richard Zowie

Times Guardian Staff Writer

When he was in sixth grade, Cory Leist was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. This meant daily insulin injections to maintain his blood sugar.

Though a disease like diabetes can sometimes be a cause for self-pity, Cory refused to let it get him down.

"I have the attitude that if something's wrong, just fix it and quit whining about it," he explained. "I was always into stuff [before being diagnosed with diabetes] but wasn't about to let it stop me. It really doesn't bother me now."

Now, Cory is a junior-to-be at Smithson Valley High School. He runs cross-country in the fall, long-distance track in the spring and serves as student council executive secretary. He's also in the top ten percent of his class.

He will soon become of the chosen few high school sophomores in Texas to attend a leadership seminar in San Antonio June 3-6. The seminar is a Giving Opportunities for Leadership Development (GOLD) Youth Leadership Program along with more than 200 other sophomores from different high schools.

The four-day seminar will concentrate on helping high school sophomores develop leadership skills and provide them with a peer support system. The seminar will also feature several panels, group discussions and motivational speakers. Expected to serve as speakers and/or panelists are notables in politics, law, business and other dignitaries across south Texas.

Also attending the seminar from Comal County will be Cody Covington from New Braunfels Canyon High School.

Cory said that when he first heard about the seminar, he didn't know what to think of it.

"I was surprised a lot since I'd never heard of it before," he explained. "When I found out about it I was, I talked to my parents about it and decided I would go. I'm hoping to learn how to be better leader and use it at the school."

Cory's parents, Milton and Carolyn Leist, said they were very proud of their son.

"It's fantastic," Mr. Leist said of his son's selection. "It's an honor for him to be selected. He's shown a lot of leadership abilities and it's a great opportunity for him to learn before he goes off to college."

"Cory is very humble and quiet and never one to brag," Mrs. Leist added. "He's a little nervous speaking, but he's devoted when he goes and does it. For him to be picked, it blew his mind."

Besides his school activities, Cory is also active with the Commemorative Air Force. As someone who hopes someday to be a pilot, Cory has ridden in B-17s and in the Yellow Rose B-25. He would like to study aeronautical engineering after high school, either at Embry-Riddle University in Prescott, Ariz. ("I like Arizona and there's a huge Boeing junkyard in Tucson," he says), or at Louisiana State University.

"At first, I was concerned about him flying in a 60 year-old plane," admitted Mrs. Leist. "But now I'm more concerned with him driving a car."

The GOLD youth leadership program has been going on for more than 15 years.

Provided at no charge to the attendees, the program is funded by supporting service organizations such as Kiwanis, Optimists, Greater Federation of Women's Clubs, as well as, area businesses. The seminar is organized and conducted by volunteer staff.

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