Source: Sherman Publications

High schooler on international stage with Optimists

by Phil Custodio

October 23, 2013

Sean Mueller is a junior at Clarkston High School, but has already been a state governor with Junior Optimist Octagon International (JOOI).

"It went pretty well – I gave a couple speeches here and there,” said Mueller, who has served as governor for the past year.

He traveled around the state helping new clubs, giving presentations to adult groups about JOOI activities, producing a newsletter, and organizing quarterly meetings, including a District Convention in Clarkston.

“Promote JOOI as much as possible, sharing my story of how I join the Optimists,” he said. “It went really well – last year, we chartered over nine new clubs, the second highest club building in JOOI International.”

This month he started his new job with Junior Optimists, regional director for the International Board of JOOI.

In July, he attended the JOOI International Convention in Cincinnati, and was elected as director. His region includes Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Wisconsin. He is part of a team of six members representing the organization in Canada, Jamaica and the United States.

He went to Optimists International in St. Louis, Missouri, Sept. 3-5, to work on policies and organize programs for the 2014 JOOI International Convention in San Diego, Calif., in July 2014.

One of his ideas at the conference was a communications web, listing officers’ names and best contact numbers.

"My idea was to send it out to every club and every member, "he said.

He is considering a run for president of JOOI international next July, but he's still on the fence.

"I'm still giving thought to that," he said. "It would look great on a college resume, but it's not just that. I get meaning out of it. It helps me prepare for the future as well."

That future may include politics, he said.

"It's a good start for me to go into politics at the state level,” he said. “I'm fascinated by the history of government. I like helping out people. Government's not in best shape, but I'd still like to make a difference somehow.”

In May, the Clarkston Area Optimist Club sponsored his attendance to the Hugh O’Brian Youth Conference (HOBY) in Midland. The three-day conference hosted high school sophomores from schools around the state. They attended workshops, team building activates, community service project and developed leadership skills.

He has been a member of JOOI since sixth grade at Sashabaw Middle School.

"My mother saw them in Depot Park, helping out, and said I should try it out," he said. "I was skeptical at first, but at the first meeting I found out what they were about and took to it."

Adult Optimists serve as advisor, but the students make the decisions about activities.

"It's about how we can help out our community, and it's run by kids," he said.

He has volunteered at Grace Center of Hope soup kitchen, canned food drive for Lighthouse North, and Friendly Forest in Clintonwood Park.

At Friendly Forest, he wore a Batman costume most of the time.

"It was fun, getting to pass out candy to the kids, seeing their faces light up when they see Batman," he said.

He plays clarinet with the Clarkston High School Marching Band, and bassoon in concert band. He has also performed with Clarkston Village Players Youth Theater for seven years.

His parents, Pat and Pat Mueller, never pushed him into activities, but urged him to explore his interests.

"Dabble in things – I've mostly followed that," he said.

His older sister Erin was also active in CVP Youth and marching band, Sean said.

“But the Optimists are my thing,” he said.