"It's not like I'm planning on being president or anything," Nicholas Prospero told me across the kitchen table at his home in Bergen.
His parents snickered on the other side of the room. They couldn't believe it. After all, Nick may be the most ambitious 14-year-old to ever walk the halls of Byron-Bergen Middle School, and he's already poised to stake his claims in the high school. And that's no exaggeration. Nick's school principal honored him as having "literally provided more services" to the middle school than anyone else "in the history of the school," his father, Jon, said.
Nicholas was twice the student body president of the middle school, once took over the treasury position when that representative bailed mid-semester, worked as a sort of liaison with the school's advisor, oversaw all school events—and all that in addition to track, soccer, band and choir... and, you know, a few other posts and activities here and there.
"It wasn't that bad," Nicholas said of the workload. He shrugs. I believe him, even though I can't believe him. He says he took this year off to get used to the high school. He started ninth grade this past September, and he has plans to join the high school's student council as a representative next year.
In a couple weeks, Nick will be boarding a plane by himself bound for Washington, D.C. He has been selected along with 4,000 other students from across the nation to attend the Presidential Youth Inaugural Conference. That includes a ticket to the inauguration of President Barack Obama January 20. He'll be standing there as the parade rolls down Pennsylvania Avenue. Millions are expected to descend on the city that day. Not everyone's got a ticket, however.
"I'm looking forward to it," Nick said. "It could have been history either way the election went."
Nick had been nominated to attend the inauguration when he was in seventh grade, two years ago. At the time, he had no idea who would be heading up the parade in Washington.
He's especially stoked about the black tie gala inaugural ball, where he plans to dress in a silver tuxedo. Nice. It's too bad, he tells me, that Lance Armstrong won't be speaking—he had initially been on the bill—but Al Gore and Colin Powell will have to do. Nick cheered on Al Gore for president when he was in first grade, he said. His classroom had a poster of Gore smiling, thumbs up. He just looked like the right guy for the job. Unfortunately, Nick was about ten years too young to vote. Besides, he didn't live in Florida, so it wouldn't have mattered much anyway.
"I want to hear how they were able to be successful in life, how they got where they are, how hard they worked to make it happen," he said of the speakers.
You might not believe it, but Nick is "not that big on" politics. Or so he says.
Right now, he thinks he would like to become a sports writer. We told him that he's welcome to write for us, anytime. We're hoping to get a few reports of the inauguration live from Washington while he's down there.