My stress levels began to rise right after school today, at approximately 4pm. I knew I had to leave the house by 5:20 in order to arrive at the school on time, so I had a limited window to shower, dress up, eat, and write my speech. Terrific.
Somehow, I managed to pull through, and I arrived at DeJean Middle School at around 5:45 PM. At first I was unsure of where to go, until I saw a group of people dressed up fancily, so I just followed their path. Upon walking into the multipurpose room, I saw many familiar faces from the tutorial session. I first saw my cohort member Saba at the side, and wondered where the rest of us Columbia kids were located. We walked towards the back of the room and quickly spotted our snazzy cohort.
I was immediately greeted by the friendly smile of the drama teacher at my school, Ms. Thrift. I was absolutely ecstatic to find out a few weeks ago that she was going to be our chaperone--I had actually starred in two productions of hers a few years ago, so we were familiar with one another. Our cohort talked about where we'd want to visit in New York, and what was going to happen at the board meeting. Although I had met all of my cohort previously at the tutorial, it was really great to "officially" meet everyone and see all of their happy faces.
When the clock striked 6:29, a board member stood up and began reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. (Go America!) For the first 20 minutes of the meeting, the board addressed news of our district, and honored teachers from DeAnza for receiving the Gold Ribbon award. It was really inspiring to see a school that was once at the very bottom move up to ranking in the top 100 schools. I hope my school achieves that someday.
After many honorable mentions and announcements, my cohort was the first to present. Walking up to the podium, I felt really nervous, as I was the student speaker for Columbia. But my cohort members were really great about comforting me and telling me that I had nothing to worry about. (Thanks guys♥) Ms. Thrift introduced myself, Deborah, Izabel, Mark, and Saba to the board and audience, and said what high school we were from, and what program we were attending. It really calmed my nerves to realize that I wasn't the first one of us to speak up there (sorry Ms. Thrift!). After the introductions, I stepped up to the podium and adjusted the mic.
I started my speech, and realized that my cohort members were right--I had nothing to worry about. Once I started speaking, I began to relax, and my heart rate slowed. I tried to deliver my speech with as much emotion and sincerity as possible, as we are truly grateful to our sponsors and parents, and everyone who made the Ivy League Connection possible. I said my last sentence, and took a deep breath as I realized the worst part was over. I sat back down with my cohort and watched the rest of the schools present.
Immediately after the meeting, we headed into the gymnasium, and took the group photo. After reading Don's email about picture setups, I was nearly certain that I'd be sitting in the front row with the rest of the "shorter ladies". But thanks to my heels, I made the cut to stand in the second row! Organizing a large group of people is really not an easy task-- kudos to you Don!
After about 15 flashes and attempts at blinding us, Don said he was finished. I was relieved, as my cheeks were starting to hurt from smiling at that point. I left with my dad and grandparents, and headed home. This school board meeting was a tremendous experience, and I'm super glad I got to spend it with the members of the Ivy League Connection.
Ivy League Connection Students and Parents