Braydon Thacker just completed his studies at Williamson PK-8.
Aside from having always excelled academically, in the time he was there he was also a member of the school’s band, the Prayer Club, the Beta Club and the soccer team.
Away from school he was and still is a member of Boy Scout Troop 321, a member of Mingo County 4-H, a member of the East Point Church Youth Group and, beginning this upcoming school year, one of only a handful of students enrolled in Mingo Central High School’s engineering program.
Sandwiched in between everything else during his later years at the West Williamson school, he was also able to attend the WVU Governor’s STEM Institute in Morgantown and the West Virginia Ambassadors’ Camp at the University of Charleston.
And when he could manage it, in his spare time the Goodman Hollow teenager additionally “helped out” at both the Chattaroy and Belfry (Kentucky) volunteer fire departments because, as he pointed out, he also has plans to someday become a volunteer firefighter like his father, Brandon, and his mother, Brandy, who have been firefighters for the CVFD for the past 20 and eight years, respectively.
All this school and community involvement didn’t go unnoticed, particularly by his Williamson PK-8 band teacher, Deidre Marshall, who prior to the end of the 2018-19 school year nominated him to attend Envision’ s Junior National Young Leaders Conference (JrNYLC) in Washington, D.C.
The conference is scheduled for the week of July 20-25.
“She was really impressed by everything he’s been involved with,” Brandy said. “And she just felt he should get the chance to attend this conference if at all possible.”
Because of the tuition costs, which include hotel stay, food, and other associated expenses, for a time at least, there was some real doubt as to whether Braydon would get take this trip to Washington.
However, thanks to donations made by local professionals and business owners, as well as an associated aggressive and ultimately successful fundraising campaign to help cover the $2,500 tuition expenses, all doubt has since been removed.
JrNYLC officials assert Envision programs, like the Washington conference for example, since 1985 “have served more than 800,000 students in more than 145 countries.” The programs “are designed to help make students develop the leadership, scholarship and career skills needed to succeed in today’s competitive college and career landscape…enabling students to explore their interests and experience learning beyond the classroom.”
“As an alumni of Envision myself, I am excited for Braydon to meet, work, and collaborate with other high-aspiring students from across the country,” said Envision SVP Freitag Thomas in a released statement. “Hands down, my favorite part of attending an Envision program was being with motivated students in an environment designed to help us challenge our assumptions, meet new people, and grow.”
Braydon, who also has definite aspirations of someday becoming a civil engineer, designing and supervising large construction projects that include buildings, airports and bridges, said he is thankful to those who stepped up and assisted him with the expense of the trip.
“Getting to go to the conference is a real honor and if it hadn’t been for people like (Williamson attorney) Nathan Brown and (South Williamson, Kentucky, dentist) Dr. Josh Leonard and all the others who donated or helped me with the fundraisers I wouldn’t be getting this chance,” he said. “I think of this as being a great opportunity and I just want everyone to know how grateful I am for them helping me to get to be a part of it.”