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Young Leader Heads To Washington
He may be only 10 years old, but Armando Mendieta is a young man on a mission.

His mission: to raise funds for an upcoming trip to Washington, D.C. where he will take part in the People to People Youth Leadership Forum.

A fifth grader at Farmington Elementary School, Armando was nominated for participation by his fourth grade teacher, Tina Harper.

"He's got leadership skills and he has demonstrated them in many ways," Harper explained. "I thought he would be a good candidate."

The teacher nominated two of her students, Mendieta and Emma Borba, for the program. Both were accepted, though Borba's parents opted not to let her attend at this time due to her young age. She hopes to attend in the future.

For Armando, once he got the letter indicating he had been accepted for the People to People program, he hit the ground running.

"Mrs. Harper said that I demonstrated skills of leadership in school with my classmates, she thought I would learn more and she nominated me," Armando explained. "The first letter I got, I was very, very excited."

So were his parents, and now the family is looking to raise the money it will take for the young leader to attend his World Leadership Forum from Feb. 23 through 28.

Fifth grade teacher Molly Capps has helped Armando with some fundraising ideas. In fact, she is knitting all the time, creating scarves that are being purchased at the school and by people around the community. At $15 per scarf and a dozen sold within the first few days, the money is starting to add up.

"Me and Mrs. Capps have been going around to the local businesses," Armando said of seeking support in Farmington and Escalon. "We've raised $400 that way."

The trip will cost about $3,600 total and Armando does have other donors that will be assisting. An account has also been set up for him at the local Guaranty Bank on McHenry Avenue in Escalon. Just stop by and mention that you want to donate to Armando's fund.

Another $250 has been raised among teachers at Farmington and a donation jar is there on the campus for loose change and bills.

Once they got the final word that Armando was locked in for the program, they started raising money. That word came right around Thanksgiving and close to $1,000 has been raised since then.

Thursday, Dec. 18, the school will have its annual Christmas program and there will be tamales and baked goods for sale, all benefiting Armandos's trip.

"My goal when I come back, is to be able to show, to present myself better and share the experiences with my friends so they can become a leader," Armando said. "I was surprised by it, my nomination, but I was mostly just happy and excited."

With aspirations to become a doctor, Armando has support from his family at home, dad Armando Mendieta Sr., mom Adriana Hernandez and little sister Melissa Mendieta.

"They're excited and my mom said she is very proud of me," Armando said.

Each day will be busy for the youngster, from touring monuments to visiting with members of Congress to taking part in workshops and sightseeing.

"He's not a typical fifth grader," Capps said of the outstanding student. "He's wonderful, he shows his leadership skills and he's very intelligent. Academically and socially, he's very positive, he's the first to lead new students around campus and he just shows his leadership and respect to all, adults and children."