Kent Island Youth Goes On Rare Adventure

By Sandra Zunino

As reports of a dismal economy continue to envelop television screens and newspapers, one thing remains constant – hope for the future lies in the youths of today. And for Andrew Koval, a junior at Stevensville’s Kent Island High School, the future looks pretty bright.

Andrew was one of approximately 350 students from across the country who participated in The National Youth Leadership Forum (NYLF) on National Security in Washington D.C. earlier this month. The six-day program featured lectures and question/answer sessions with security agencies such as the C.I.A., Secret Service, N.S.A., and U.S. military entities. Participants also visited Capitol Hill, several monuments and the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Virginia.

The NYLF is an independent, educational organization established to introduce select students to professional careers including law, medicine and government services. Students are nominated by educators to attend a specific forum and are chosen based on academic achievement and leadership potential.

Andrew was the only KIHS student to participate in February’s Forum. He was nominated by history teacher Dawn Unger based on exemplary grades.

Andrew says he’s intrigued by the field of National Security. One speaker he said stood out was the director of the N.S.A. “I’m possibly interested in pursuing something with the N.S.A.,” he said.

In addition to qualifying for the trip, Andrew also had to supply almost $1,500 tuition for the program. The tuition included accommodations, meals, instruction, supervisory personnel, program materials, activities and transportation. For this, Andrew tapped into his “Scout Account” from Boy Scout Troop 495 at Kent Island United Methodist Church. A portion of proceeds earned during Troop fundraising efforts accumulates in the Scout Account to be used for Scouting or other approved leadership endeavors.

Currently the Senior Patrol Leader for Troop 495, Andrew joined the Boy Scouts as a Cub Scout in first grade. Having recently finished his Eagle Scout project, an informational kiosk for QAC Parks & Recreation, he says he will soon be applying for the Eagle Rank, the highest honor in the Scouting program.

Mike and Nancy Koval, Andrew’s parents, credit the Scouting program for helping them promote Andrew’s respectful and self-sufficient values. “That’s not to say he isn’t a typical teenager though,” says Nancy. “There are many times we earn our gray hairs!”

Parent-teen clashes hardly diminish Mike’s and Nancy’s pride in Andrew; however, pride rivaled only by his grandparents, Warren and Dot Bornhoeft of Centreville, and Ada Koval of Annapolis.

A member of the Spanish Club at KIHS, Andrew has been fundraising for his next adventure – a trip to Spain, Italy and Greece this summer organized by a KIHS Spanish teacher. Add his involvement with the Youth Group at St. Christopher’s Church, and it’s hard to imagine Andrew having much time for anything else. Yet he makes room for musical pursuits, playing guitar for more than three years and now playing bass guitar in “The Bowties”, a local band performing 50s-to-modern-day rock. He also plays guitar at his church.

With senior year looming ahead, Andrew says he’s only just starting to think about the college application process. “I will probably stay within the state of Maryland,” he says, “but I haven’t decided where to go yet.”