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Teen has hot ticket to history-making event

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By The Staff

By CINDY SIMPSON

rccindysimpson@bellsouth.net

An Oliver Springs youth gets to witness history first hand next week in Washington, D.C.

Dillon Shelton, 14, an Oliver Springs Elementary School eighth-grader, will be involved in the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th U.S. president.

Shelton is attending as a participant with the Junior Presidential Youth Inauguration Conference.

“Politics has always been something I’ve been interested in; politics and history,” Shelton said.

The highlights of the five-day program include a chance to meet former vice president Al Gore and former secretary of state Colin Powell.

Shelton will have insider access to the Smithonian Institution, will witness Obama’s inauguration and oath of office  and will watch the inaugural parade while lunching at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel.

He’ll also have the opportunity to explore the National Mall monuments and museums.

Shelton will be donning a tuxedo for the Gala Inaugural Ball he will be attending. He took ballroom dancing lessons to prepare for the big event.

“I love to dress up,” Shelton admitted.

His demeanor and crisp, resonating voice make it easy to forget he is only 14.

His mother, Michelle Morgan, said Shelton began insisting on taking a briefcase to school beginning in the fifth grade.

He also has school nicknames, including “Mr. President” and “Sarge” because of his love for all things military.

He has his own collection of uniforms.

Shelton loves to delve in the past, and in some ways live in it.

He got a Marine uniform from the Army Surplus Store, and he doesn’t hesitate to wear it to school —  including a dance, where he and some friends sang as part of their barbershop quartet.

He’s not interested in the typical activities of youth his age, asides from playing left side linebacker and right tackle for the school football team.

Incidentally, he’s not bad at that — he was named to All-East Tennessee and All-District rosters.

Shelton admits he prefers older music — nothing more modern than the ’60s and ’70s.

He also has ventured into the world of ventriloquism, and has a dummy in a Navy uniform.

While he admits to being a different breed of teenager, he hasn’t settled down on career goals for his adulthood just yet.

His fascination with the military might lead him toward a career with the Marines.

“I’ve definitely thought about going into politics, but I’ve been big on military for years,” Shelton said.

His love of politics showed last semester, when he portrayed John McCain during a mock Presidential debate shortly before the election.

Shelton is getting the opportunity to participate in the inauguration as one of the alumni of the Junior National Young Leaders Conference.

He was nominated for the conference by his principal, Gwen Johnson.

Morgan said they selected past participants from the conference to get the chance to attend the inaugural activities.

“I’m elated for Dillon. He worked so hard,” she said.

He attended the five-day conference as a sixth-grader, leaving his parents behind in Tennessee.

He stayed with other students in dorms at the University of Maryland, taking four courses a day in leadership and touring a variety of sites in and around the Washington area pertaining to the nation’s history.

“It was fun overall,”  Shelton said.  “Everything was exciting.”