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Senior trades prom for Uganda mission

Erin Zseller, 17, front, works with classmates Jacob

Erin Zseller, 17, front, works with classmates Jacob Greenberg, 17 and Holly Labelli, 17, to find board games children in Uganda would enjoy. Zseller leaves for the country on June 16 to spend 13 days working with children who have been liberated after being forced to serve in a guerilla army there. She will be missing her prom and graduation to work for the cause. (April 28, 2011) Photo Credit: T.C. McCarthy

A Calhoun High School senior is giving up the pomp-and-circumstance of prom and graduation activities to help out youngsters going through a much different upbringing.

Erin Zseller will be in Uganda from June 16 to 29 to work with Invisible Children. The non-profit organization is dedicated to ending the use of child soldiers in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a group looking to overthrow the Ugandan government.

While in Uganda, Zseller, 17, will help build a rehabilitation center for the children. She is the fourth Calhoun student to be selected to volunteer in the region after applying through the senior experience class at the Merrick school. As part of the process she wrote an essay expressing why she should be chosen.

“You have to show you love the organization,” she said. “I love Invisible Children.”

Zseller intends to study communications and fundraising at SUNY Cortland, then return as an employee with Invisible Children. The trip has her parents, John and Vicki Zseller, both proud and very nervous.

“Like her mother I am nervous, but I try not to show it,” John Zseller said. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, and it’s really changing what she might want to do professionally.”

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