If you're worried about the future of this country, and where the direction will come from when the next generation takes over the reins of leading this great nation, just take a look at today's TIMES NEWS.

Three stories, about three special students, reinforce that this generation will be turning the country over to very capable people.

Take Amanda Walck, who's featured on Page 3 of today's edition. Amanda's love for science, especially biology, has enabled her to receive a national honor for superior academic achievement after she was selected for membership to the National Society of High School Scholars.

The 16-year-old Walck, a Palmerton Area High School junior, is beyond being just an excellent student. Her award came as a result of her academic achievements and also her many hours of volunteer work.

The experience has the daughter of Carl and Robin Walck of Bowmanstown thinking about a career in the medical field.

On the same page of today's edition is another feature story about Nicholas Mantz, 17, son of David and Judy Mantz, who recently attended the National Youth Leadership Forum on National Security.

Mantz joined other outstanding students from throughout the country exploring American diplomacy, intelligence and defense in Washington D.C.

The curriculum for the Forum on National Security is based on actual world events. Throughout the program, students used critical thinking, leadership and public speaking skills to tackle the complexity of national decision making as they examined how the U.S. plans for peace and prepares for crisis. They employed a crisis decision-making process similar to that employed by the nation's top policymakers.

Through the sessions, Mantz and the other participants, had the responsibility of securing the United States at home and aboard. Through these specialized simulations, the youths were in the driver's seat of building a strategy that upheld national security.

That's pretty heads up stuff for anyone, let alone a 16-year old.

The experience has the young man thinking about a career in intelligence. He plans to pursue attending a military academy following graduation in 2012.

The third story landed on the front page of today's edition. It too features the accomplishments of a young man from our circulation area.

Guy Bowe of Tamaqua was one of 11 Susquehanna University students who traveled to New Orleans recently as the Hurricane Relief Team to assist with ongoing recovery efforts.

Bowe, the son of Jeffrey and Rea Bowe, is a 2007 graduate of Tamaqua Area High School. He is a senior finance and economics major at Susquehanna University.

Bowe and the other students worked with the organization Rebuilding Hope in New Orleans (RHINO), which is a mission of the St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church.

Since RHINO first opened its doors in October 2005, the organization has worked with over 4,000 out-of-state volunteers. Seventeen homes have been built through its partnership with Habitat for Humanity.

The experience left a lasting impression on the young man.

Bowe was inspired by the trip to continue forward as an active citizen. "I've done community service projects throughout college, and by far this was the most gratifying. I plan on looking into more service trips in the near future."

Three young leaders – three separate experiences. Theirs are only three of the many stories that emerge every day about young men and women from our area who are preparing themselves to make valuable contributions to society when they step out into the world following their academic careers. It makes you proud that they are receiving the education, motivation and family guidance that has propelled them to accomplishments beyond the ordinary.

Bob Urban

rurban@tnonline.com [1]