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Washington Voices

Student fundraising for Princeton leadership program

Thu., June 5, 2014

A Spokane Valley High School student is hoping to raise enough funds to attend the Junior State of America Summer School at Princeton University this summer.

Gleb Liashedko was born in Russia and lived in Ukraine before his family immigrated to America eight years ago.

Now 17, Liashedko said the move helped fuel his aspirations.

“My dream was being a bus driver,” he said. “My dreams are so much bigger (now).”

He’s a junior at Spokane Valley High School, one of West Valley School District’s nontraditional high schools. He came to the school as a freshman, after missing most of his eighth-grade year. He said he wasn’t fitting in at middle school and he wasn’t doing the work.

“I don’t think I was doing well,” he said.

But that changed once he started at Spokane Valley. That first semester, he earned a 4.0 GPA. That year, he ran against a senior for ASB president and won. He’s held the position since.

“I just fell in love,” he said about the school.

Next year, he’ll be taking Running Start classes and will apply to colleges. He wants to attend the University of Washington, Gonzaga University, Harvard or Princeton.

At the summer school, he’ll study macroeconomics, attend workshops, and participate in mock Congress sessions and debates. He’s looking forward to hearing guest speakers – in the past, President Barak Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. John McCain have spoken during the session.

The trip is expensive, however. Originally, it was to cost almost $6,000. He received a scholarship and some grants and now only needs about $1,100. He’s been reaching out to service organizations, holding garage sales and has a fundraising website online, much like many other potential students of the summer courses.

“I’m really, really close,” he said.

Leadership isn’t anything new to him. Along with his position at the school, he’s on the Chase Youth Commission, he’s a student representative to the West Valley School Board and he has applied to be on the Legislative Youth Council in Olympia next year.

One thing he’s learned from Spokane Valley High School is how to speak in front of crowds. He recently went to Olympia with the Chase Youth Commission and had no problem speaking in front of others.

“I talk and I’m not even nervous,” he said.

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