Bailey Schneider, a junior at Notre Dame Preparatory, is headed to the Presidential Inaugural Conference this weekend and will join inauguration activities. (Ambria Hammel/THE CATHOLIC SUN)
Bailey Schneider, a junior at Notre Dame Preparatory, is headed to the Presidential Inaugural Conference this weekend and will join inauguration activities. (Ambria Hammel/THE CATHOLIC SUN)

SCOTTSDALE — She has held some leadership positions here and there during her middle school years. Now, as a high school junior, Bailey Schneider will have the know-how to become the nation’s top-ranking official.

That doesn’t mean she plans to pursue the presidency. In a few days though, Schneider will be able to witness events surrounding the nation’s 57th Presidential Inauguration.

Schneider, a student at Notre Dame Preparatory, is reportedly the only student from Arizona attending the High School Presidential Inaugural Conference in Washington, D.C. Jan. 19-23. She’ll join 1,000 other students from across the country deemed leadership material and academically sharp.

Only a fraction of students who participated in previous leadership conferences and programs hosted by Envision EMI, a Washington D.C.-based education company, were invited to the inauguration conference. The company recognizes and mentors the nation’s highest-achieving students through the National Young Scholars Program, the Congressional Youth Leadership Council and the National Youth Leadership Forum.

Schneider participated in the latter program last summer at UCLA. The opportunity came through a teacher nomination at Phoenix’s Pinnacle High School. She transferred to Notre Dame during her sophomore year.

The summer leadership forum focused specifically on medicine, something that Schneider said is in her blood and in her heart. Her father is a surgeon.

Leadership also runs through her veins. This won’t be her first leadership conference nor likely her last. Schneider recently received an email from University of California at Berkeley inviting her to a leadership event as well.

For now, Schneider is gearing up for a trip to the nation’s capitol.

“It’s an inauguration, so it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Schneider said.

It’s also five days of conference activities and exclusive events including a screening and discussion of “All the Presidents Men” and a special performance of “The Capitol Steps.” Students will gain an insight from the top level of each political party about election campaign strategies and how to be involved locally. They will also set out on a simulated “campaign trail” as a candidate from the 2012 election.

Condoleeza Rice, former Secretary of State and General Wesley Clark, a one-time Democratic candidate for president and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, will deliver keynote addresses. One of four “presidential group meetings” gives the scholars time to discuss issues that are of importance to their local area or country and create an action plan for change.

Schneider didn’t talk about issues with The Catholic Sun, but said that as a leader, it’s important to keep the people’s best interest in mind and always do what’s right. Barbara Nejman, who once taught her world history, easily sees leadership qualities in Schneider.

“The joy of serving. There is a joy, but there’s also an awesome responsibility. She’s quite on top of that whole mindset,” Nejman said.

The teacher continued on to list Schneider’s curiosity, positive attitude and esprit de corps as other leadership qualities.

“She projects this feeling of awareness and joy of life and everything around her,” Nejman said.

As far as the inauguration itself, Schneider and the other scholars are scheduled to get exclusive early access to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum on the National Mall prior to the Oath of Office and inaugural address. They will also have a special viewing party and celebratory luncheon for the parade followed by an exclusive concert.

While Schneider is the first Notre Dame student to attend the Presidential Inauguration Conference, she will be the second one on hand during a presidential inauguration. One of Nejman’s students happened to be in the area the week of President Barack Obama’s first inauguration day and the Notre Dame family joined the crowd of spectators.

Separate Presidential Inaugural Conferences are also held for middle school and college students. Follow the high school conference on Facebook.