Sunday, June 8, 2014

Goodbye 20 Time!

1. Overall, what is your opinion of 20 Time based on YOUR experience in class?

I really liked 20 Time because it gave me the opportunity and motivation to do something that I would not have done otherwise. I've always been passionate about suicide prevention, but this project was the vehicle for me to actually get out there and do something about it. I am so happy with what I accomplished and grateful that 20 Time gave me the boost I needed to do it. 

2. What are some aspects of 20 Time that you think should be adjusted for students next year?

I think having more time to explore the possibilities and pick a project could be beneficial for students. It's very overwhelming trying to decide on one thing you want to devote your whole year to, and with the lack of direction I know many people picked things they didn't really like. While that wasn't the case for me, I do know that I spent the first half of the year doing absolutely nothing and I should have spent more time at the beginning making a real plan of action and setting goals. I also think it would be very helpful if there was some class periods at the start of the year where we had conversations about how you find what you're passionate about. We are only 15/16 year olds and some of us have no idea how to go about doing that! Some people already had a good idea of what their "thing" is, like singing or making art. But for others it's harder, and in a lot of people's talks they kept saying "do what you love, do what you love, this will only be good if you do what you love" but we need to know how you find what you love because it can be difficult! 

3. What are some aspects of 20 Time that should NOT be changed for students next year?

I think the blog posts every other week are good because they make sure you're accountable for what you're working on. I also believe giving a presentation at the end of the year should not be changed because it's important to reflect on the experience and draw lessons from it. 

4. Is 20 Time something that more students should do in school? Please explain why or why not.

20 Time should be done by more students in school, because constantly we hear kids complaining about how they hate school and they never get to learn about what they WANT to learn about, and education is so messed up and all that, and 20 Time combats that. I think it is good in an honors class because honors kids are more likely to take this kind of thing seriously and actually try. It's a good way for kids to figure out what they really care about and love doing, because in a matter of years we're going to have to decide what we want to study in college, and later what we want to pursue as a career. 20 Time is a way to start exploring those options and learn about yourself. 

5. What advice would you give to students who are doing 20 Time next year?

Really think long and hard about what you want to do, picture yourself doing it all year or working towards that one goal all year, and figure out if that sounds good to you. Do it for the right reason, not because you think it will get the most recognition, it will be easy, you can put it on a resume, etc. Also realize that 20 Time is a completely individual journey and you shouldn't compare your project to others'. In the end it is all about you and your personal goals. I know one of my friends was annoyed by the fact that I "stole their idea" of holding a charity walk, and I believe they missed the point of 20 Time a little bit. It shouldn't matter what anyone else is doing, whether it's similar to yours or not, we all have these passions and dreams and hopes for the world and that is what should matter! 

6. (For Speakers at TEDxGPSHS Only) What did you think of the event? Is this something the school should host again? Why or why not?

I think the event was amazing! I am still blown away by the fact that I got to speak at a real TEDx event and I am only 15. I got to share my ideas on a platform that has the potential to be seen by so many people which is absolutely incredible. I think the school should host it again because it's a wonderful opportunity for young people. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


The walk was held this past Sunday and it was a huge success! We had 135 walkers and raised over $9,000! I am so unbelievably proud of myself and happy with how everything turned out. I think we really got that conversation started about suicide in my community, reduced the stigma, honored those who have taken their own lives, and raised a ton of funds for AFSP in the process.

I also gave my TED talk last Thursday, and while I did forget little bits and pieces when I got up there, and started tending to repeat myself towards the end, overall it went well. Mr. P told me he's planning for me to be the last speaker at the TEDx conference which is super exciting!


Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Final Countdown

Last weekend, a junior at South committed suicide. While I didn't know him, I was deeply saddened by this news and I wish more than anything that he knew what I have been working on all year and how fiercely I have been trying to prevent this. It has been an absolute roller coaster of emotions this past week, but I am super determined to make the walk a success and increase awareness in the community about how much help there is out there for those who feel alone.

Participation and donations for the walk have significantly increased and we are currently almost halfway to the goal of $5,000. It's super exciting and rewarding to see things start to come together!

I have been working on advertising the walk and in the coming week will be working out some of the finer logistical details as well as figuring out how many volunteers I will need doing each thing. I am super stressed because on top of this I have AP exams, final projects, choir, and somewhere in the midst of everything I'm going to have to get my talk down solid... I am just telling myself that everything will get done and I know it will! 2 weeks until the walk!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Beginning of the End

Today marks exactly 4 weeks until the walk and I am definitely stressed but also very excited about it!

I had spring break this past week which was a nice way to relax and put all my work on hold. I went to Arizona with my family and laid by the pool, hiked in the Grand Canyon, read lots of books, and got more sunburnt than I'd like to admit. While I didn't do anything for my project during this time, I was able to accomplish some stuff before and also this past weekend when I got home. I have recruited people to be captains of walk teams within certain activities at South such as choir, student council, track, softball, etc. Some people have signed up online but we are still a long ways away from all the participation I want so I will keep working on that!

I spent a lot of time emailing and calling businesses, hospitals, and mental health practices for potential sponsorship but in the end no one signed on. I had a really solid lead with Beaumont Hospital but in the end they said they were not able to help at this time. I know also that the Family Center was supposed to take a vote on whether they were going to sponsor the walk but I have not heard from them. It is kind of a bummer but the bright side is I have the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and all their funding behind me 100% even without any sponsors, so the walk will be able to go on regardless.

I got the packages in the mail with the walk banners and signs as well as all the promotional materials like flyers, postcards, and bracelets. It was super exciting and made this whole thing even more real! I am going to work on getting advertisement going as soon as possible.

I began working on my talk this weekend. I read the book Talk Like Ted all in one day and it gave me a lot of great tips and advice on how to construct an amazing presentation. I have decided the premise of my talk is going to be "Why our generation can prove everyone wrong". So often, adults characterize our generation as lazy and apathetic, addicted to our smartphones and incapable of being productive. I'm going to discuss how we can contradict this notion because our generation has so much potential to do amazing things and we have a vast amount of tools that weren't available to generations before us. I took some notes in my Evernote book but I haven't really made a cohesive speech or set of slides yet. With planning for the walk, studying for AP tests, and all my activities, I'm not really sure when I'm going to find time to write the talk but like everything else it will get done! Full steam ahead!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Not Perfection, But Progress

Things have really started to pick up for my project in just the past couple days! Mr. Hawkins finally gave me the A-okay to hold my walk at South on Sunday May 25th. Once I got that confirmation, I emailed my AFSP person updating her, and also submitted my order forms for all the promotional materials (flyers, postcards, wristbands) and my form for the signs, including a big "REGISTRATION" banner and directional signs for the walk route. Woohoo!

Spring break is quickly approaching and I need to accomplish as much as possible before I leave for sunny Arizona. So today I emailed quite a few potential sponsors explaining the event and attached the sponsorship packet which details the different levels and benefits that come along with each. I also have several mental health facilities I could not find email addresses for, so I will be calling those places tomorrow. Along with sponsors, I also need to start recruiting walkers. Since my walk page allows for walkers to register on a team, my plan is to get different clubs and groups at South to participate as teams. Thus far I have contacted Ms. Distelrath and Coach Zaranek for Student Association and the track team, respectively, and have also talked to girls on both who I think would make great team captains. I know the class of 2016 student council is on board as well. This week I'm going to work on getting teams made from the Tower classes and other sports teams. Additionally, I'm going to get a head start on advertising by contacting the Grosse Pointe News and Grosse Pointe Patch. Finally, I want to contact the principals of North and Parcells, because a Parcells teacher recently committed suicide and I'm sure many students and staff would like to do the walk in his memory.

As you can see things are going a mile a minute! I was so stressed earlier this weekend, but now that I have got a handle on everything and know what needs to be done, I'm feeling a lot better. I really need to start thinking about my talk, but I'm not getting too crazy about it yet.

For anyone reading who would like to register for the walk, you may do so here!

Friday, March 21, 2014

All I Do is Wait....

It feels like I've been waiting forever! I STILL do not have confirmation from the school that my date for the walk is okay and therefore I haven't been able to move forward with any other planning stuff. Finally today I went to the athletic office and left a message for the athletic director Mr. Hawkins with his assistant. They are supposed to contact me soon to set up a meeting. It is incredibly frustrating that this is eating up so much valuable time I could use to be recruiting walkers and finding sponsors and promoting the walk. I am trying super hard to stay positive but I'm just really anxious about getting things going!!

Hopefully next time I blog I will have a lot more progress to report. Also the next time I blog I believe will be when I need to have an idea of what my talk will be about. I am still very undecided about it but I want to order the "Talk Like Ted" book Mr. Provenzano has been showing our class because I think it would be very beneficial and could help me in writing a great speech. I definitely want to be one of the people that gets to speak at the TEDx conference so I'm sure the book could help me with that.

Sorry this blog post is so lacking and I'm praying I will make leaps and bounds towards my goal within the next couple weeks! Keep me in your thoughts and send me good vibes!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

A Minor Setback...

Planning the walk has reached a bit of a setback! I got the building use form back from student activities, and it had a Post-It note that read "NO". Mrs. Mitzel, the student activities coordinator, explained to me that the athletic department vetoed the event for that date because they have too much going on that particular day. However, they said that Sunday could probably be okay, so I resubmitted the form and should hear back this week. Once I do, I can order the promotional materials like flyers and postcards, start advertising, and begin reaching out to potential sponsors. I actually was going to do that this week because I didn't even think having my date vetoed was a possibility, so it's lucky that I didn't! It would have been a disaster to have to re-order all new flyers with the right date! Yikes! Definitely dodged a bullet there.

Even though I was very upset when I first found out about the athletics department saying no, I'm keeping a positive attitude. Sunday can work just as well, and the walk can still be successful! Planning and organizing will soon get very busy, but I know I'll be able to take it in stride and it will all pay off in the end. I'm definitely going to try and speak to all the spring sports teams, because they could provide some great participation for the walk and it could be a competition of sorts to see which team can fundraise the most. I also want to find people who would like to speak or perform at the opening ceremony of the walk. 

As long as I try my hardest and put a lot of effort into this project, that's all that counts! I'm not going to stress about reaching a certain amount of participants or money raised, because from the beginning we've been told that failure is an option. And while I don't want my walk to be a total failure, I've kind of put things into perspective and realized that I'm a 15-year-old girl trying to organize a major event on top of school, sports, church, and my plethora of extracurricular activities. So if the event isn't a smashing success it'll be okay, because it will be a personal success for me and a victory for suicide prevention no matter how small!