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Local students got to show their public speaking skills and creativity in a mock art grant competition
A group of seven 10th-grade students participated in a mock art grant competition this Wednesday. - photo by Rio White

A group of 10th-grade students in the local chapter of the Classical Conversations Christian homeschooling program had a chance to display their public speaking skills at a mock art grant competition hosted by Cornerstone Christian Church in Dawsonville.

These bright young minds — most of whom had grown up together and had practiced public speaking for many years — were tasked with coming up with a project that would simulate the process of receiving a grant from a large organization such as the National Endowment for the Arts.

More specifically, the students had to use rhetorical skills, persuasive language and visual aids to convince a panel to award the money.

The challenge? Speaking in front of a panel that included Dawsonville mayor Mike Eason, city councilman William Illg, and Laura Cole, the Director of Education and Training at the Atlanta Shakespeare Company.

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Each student had a project that focused on using music or art to benefit a specific group of people in the local community, such as Alzheimer’s patients, the homeless or foster children.

Tracy Stephens, the director of 10th-grade studies at Classical Conversations, was proud of the group’s efforts.

“I thought they did a fantastic job,” Stephens said. “They pulled together things they’ve been working on for several years and it was a great culmination of all those skills.”

As part of the competition, each student described the budget of the project and requested a specific amount of money. The panel could decide how much they would ultimately grant to each project.

A variety of mediums were used to present each project, including PowerPoint presentations, poster boards, and audio/video elements.

For the panel, it was important to give feedback on both the content and presentation of the project.

Two projects that received the highest praise included “Musical Memories” by Sophie Stephens and “Adventures in Art” by Avery Butler.

Avery Butler describes her project in front of a panel of judges. - photo by Rio White

Stephens used both physical props and a video to describe how elderly dementia patients could benefit from musical therapy through immersive bi-weekly sessions. 

Her project included a detailed plan that focused on helping the patients increase physical and mental activity by creating and playing their own instruments.

Butler’s project used a colorful poster board that visualized an “art bus” that would host art activity days for local elementary school children. 

Her project envisioned a place where creativity would be at the forefront and the possibilities could be endless.

Tracy Stephens summed up the competition as a shining example of each student’s hard work and attention to detail.

“I think they did a good job appealing to the logic and the emotions of who would be listening to them and being in touch with their target audience,” Stephens said. “These are going to be the next leaders of their generation and I’m really proud of them.”