Around school, when something needs to get done, this teenager gets it done. Around school, when fundraising needs to get started, this teenager gets it started. When Lewiston High School’s principal, Dr. O’Neill, needs to select a student to represent his high school at the University of Maine for a state seminar in leadership, he knows just the teenager to do it. And, when the board of that seminar must choose a student to represent Maine at the World Leadership Conference in Washington D.C., they select this teenager to do so. Matthew Gutshall is that teenager who has done it all.

Don Toko has been directing the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership program for about 21 years, hoping to unite the youth, push the youth to become pro-active, and allowing them to be pushed further. Twenty-six sophomores from around Maine are chosen every year to go to Orono and participate in a three day seminar for the HOBY organization and get the chance to work with HOBY directors and alumni, along with the other students chosen for the program.

During those three days the students were put into groups. Matt was part of the yellow group, and performed cheers to constantly keep their energy going. Not only that, but the students did community service at the local YMCA. After those three days were over, HOBY held a banquet to give the parents the opportunity to learn what their children had been doing and let the “HOBY Daddy,” Chris Newtown, declare which two students had been chosen to represent Maine at the WCL in Washington D.C. Matt Gutshall, president of Lewiston High School’s class of 2007, proved to be the epitome of leadership and thus was chosen that day, getting the opportunity to shine. Over 350,000 students go through the HOBY program and Matt was given his chance to show the world that he can make a difference.

Matt worked extra hard from that day on to raise the needed sum of $ 1,250 to take the trip to Washington D.C. Sensing his motivation and sensational leadership qualities that got him that trip, local businesses, friends, and family of Matt were more than happy to help him out. In a matter of time, Matt was on his way to the capital, eagerly awaiting his eight day adventure with 421 students from around the world representing 21 different countries.

Upon arrival, the students were put into 15 different groups, which were chosen by the board before the seminar began, allowing Matt to meet people from Canada, New York, Taiwan, Israel, Texas, California, and Japan. Each group had nightly discussions and began to learn more and more about each other. Matt went on to say, “By the time the whole thing’s done, you become a family.” The students were also taught three songs, such as the words of Bach and Schweitzer, and became a choir, Matt performed around Washington D.C.

At the end of the eight days the students were sad to see it end. They had become extremely close in a short period of time. But as Matt says, “It’s not something that’s ending; it’s something that’s starting.” Matt now has ties around the world and has shown his ability to be an outstanding leader. Asking Matt for his final remark he began to gaze off, smiling, reminiscing on his experience, “Lauren, HOBY was something that will never be forgotten. It’s remarkable, inspirational, and nothing will ever match up to it.”


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