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ArtsVibe Takes FCCLA
by Sydney P., Teen Council Member

Being a Teen Council member has always been sort of an honor for me. Since my first year on the council, I’ve told just about everyone I’ve came across about how I’m a advocate for the teen arts community and get to meet some of the coolest teen artist in Atlanta. It wasn’t much of a surprise that my FCCLA Advisor asked me to compete in Advocacy for our state competitions.

If you aren’t familiar with FCCLA, it stands for Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America. FCCLA is a national Career and Technical Student Organization. They prompt values such as  personal growth, leadership development, and career preparation. This is my second year in FCCLA, and I will be starting my senior year as my chapter’s president. As school begins, chapters all over the nation begin prep for their state’s Leadership Meeting. Georgia’s leadership meeting is held in Athens, GA, in the heart of UGA’s campus. At these meetings, many workshops and seminars are held. STAR Events are also held at state meetings. STAR stands for Students Taking Action for Recognition, in these events, students choose categories and multiple actions to shed light on issues on a local, state, or national level.

The STAR event I participated in was Advocacy. Advocacy is an individual or team event that recognizes participants who demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and ability to actively identify a local, state, national, or global concern, research the topic, identify a target audience and potential partnerships, form an action plan, and advocate for the issue in an effort to positively affect a policy or law. I chose to focus my project on teen arts in Atlanta and the importance of the culture of the arts among teens. Being a teen council member means you have to represent the arts, represent teens and their opinions, and, most importantly, become an advocate for the arts. I was ecstatic to begin this project, seeing as it’s what I do at ArtsVibe.

I did my project in a straight shot and it took just a little over 9 hours. I stayed up researching public policy about the arts, other programs like ArtsVibe, and studying my teen council handbook actually put into words what I do at the Woodruff Arts Center. In addition to using all the resources ArtsVibe provides me, I had to make up my own components and answer questions such as “What would you say if you were in an elevator with someone who could change the topic you chose in a positive way?” I had to put together this 50 page portfolio following a 4 page rubric so I wouldn’t lose any points.  It was all fairly easy to me, it was what I already did! All I had to do was prepare for my speech!

As much as I hate to admit, I wrote my speech the night before I was to present to a panel of judges. Image me pacing my Athens hotel room, Insomnia Cookies in one hand, a large stack of index cards in the other, trying to put everything together. Writing the speech wasn’t at all the hardest part of this project; the hardest part was presenting! I was first to present in a room filled with teachers from all over Georgia who would determine my score. In teen council, the only adults I have to talk to the ‘cool’ ones who remind me of cooler older siblings or the one teacher everyone loved, but the people I had to present were in the same boat as my meanest, oldest teachers.

My presentation lasted about 10 minutes with a five minute question session. After that was over, I was beyond relieved. All that was left to do was wait until the closing session to find out where I placed. At these sessions, they only bring up the top 10 students in the category, but they don’t tell you where it is you placed exactly. When my advisor stopped me and told me I made the top 10, I was in shock! I sat, very confused, with the rest of the students in my category until we were escorted to the stage. When we were called up and lined up to get our medals, I was in such disbelief. As students got called off one by one, I noticed it was me and two other people remaining, then it was just me. I got the highest score on my project, so I went home with a gold medal, a spot in the the STAR events that are held at the FCCLA National Leadership Conference in Washington D.C., where students all over the nation compete!

Nationals was very different from state competitions. For one, it’s much more people. This wasn’t at all a bad thing, I was very glad to meet people from all over the country and see what their lives were like. Competition was stronger, which scared me a bit because all the people I competed against won just like I did. Everything was much more strict. They were super strict about dress codes, curfews, and scoring for competitions. We all had to attend a seminar on what not to do while presenting. Some of the things were outrageously obvious, others were odd and unquestionable. I made some adjustments that night to insure everything went flawless. I presented Monday and had to wait until Thursday to find out where my presentation ranked.

While I waited for results, I killed time sightseeing all around our nation’s capital. The convention was held in Chinatown, which was about a mile away from the National Mall and all the monuments. I met with Georgia congressman David Scott, along with other congressman from across the country. I visited some of the Smithsonian Museums (American History, Natural History, and African Art), I also visited that Holocaust Museum, which was the most touching museum I have ever been to, and local hotspots to eat and socialize. Since I was the only student from my school, I had to make friends as I went along.  It was amazing to meet kids in my hotel who were from all over the place , however, I did have a few familiar faces. Some kids I recognized from our state meetings were in my hotel. My friend Olivia, who I took a class with at Georgia Tech last spring, was also there and became my partner-in-crime for the remainder of the trip. The much needed distractions helped the 3 days pass with ease.

The ceremony was incredibly long, but luckily my category was first! I thought that since I was sat far in the back, I’d done badly, but it was the exact opposite! I second in my category, and took home a silver medal! I was a little upset because I didn’t get first, but second at NATIONALS was a huge deal for me!  I’m glad that I got the experience to get the word out about ArtsVibe and all the things I’m lucky enough to do. It’s an honor to know that I’m doing justice for ArtsVibe. It’s something that’s so dear to me and I want to shout from the mountain tops about how awesome it is and we successfully advocate for the arts community.


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