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Shine Summit empowers high school girls, builds confidence

PARKER – In the first moments of her keynote address, the former editor-in-chief of Seventeen magazine set the tone for the entire Shine Summit. Ann Shoket encouraged the nearly 400 high school girls to be brave, strong, confident and to follow their dreams.

“There has never been a bigger opportunity for you to own your space in the world and to make a huge mark,” Shoket said.

The purpose of the conference, organized by about 15 girls from Legend High School, was to empower their classmates and other female students by addressing issues that specifically impact their lives and building their confidence.

‘The goal is to use the power that women have. Instead of just tearing us all down,” explained Legend senior Dana Pogar. “It is all a competition now. Do you have the prettiest hair? Do you have the best purse? The main goal of [the Shine Summit] is to brighten each other’s days, compliment each other and love each other. We can spread the love amongst all of us women, so we feel like one big family.”

This is the second year of the event, which began at Legend after the school presented “Girls Like That,” a play about girls being cruel to one another.

“The entire premise of the play is that we need to come together as women, as girls. We need to empower one-another and build each other up,” explained Legend Dean of Students Staci Batterson.

She felt that it was important to educate and empower the students.

“We need to educate all of our kids about how to use social media responsibly. There are really amazing things that come from it, but then there are things you would say over a computer screen that you would never say face-to-face,” Batterson said.

This year the event moved to the PACE Center in Parker, allowing not only more girls to attend, but also for participants to engage in more honest conversations.

“I think it is awesome that we are doing it away from a school site, because girls can now really open up their hearts and really express how they feel and learn something about building relationships or building self-confidence or self-defense without having that peer pressure of ‘someone is watching me,’ Pogar said.

Pogar says she volunteered to help organize the event, because she wants to help girls like her. Over the years she says she was bullied because of her size.

“I knew what some of these girls went through and the experiences they have had. I wanted to make their lives and experiences in school a little better,” Pogar said.

Each of the Douglas County high schools were represented at this year’s event, plus girls came from a number of the other Continental League schools.

“I think that is great because it is not just an impact from Legend, it is in our whole community and it can have more of an domino effect,” said Legend senior Erin Jones.

“We can impact Colorado and maybe conquer the world with positive attitudes,” Pogar added.

During the keynote address, Shoket, who attended elementary and middle school in DCSD, before moving to the East Coast, encouraged the teens to be the best version of themselves, and how to create the future they have always dreamed of.

“The conversations I see young women having about power and success in the world are different than I’ve ever seen before,” Shoket said. “The truth is that the world is ready for you. The world wants your impact and wants to know what you have to say.”

‘The hardest part is having an idea that you know needs to be heard in the world and then convincing other people that your idea needs to be heard in the world too,” Shoket added. “It’s a little easier these days because you have social media—you can make your point heard in the world.  You don’t need to wait for someone else to pick you.”

She says that the symbols of power for females are moving from high-heeled shoes to technology. 

“One of the things I have discovered is that you guys really don’t care about shoes any more,” Shoket said. “The shoes have been replaced by the MacBook Air, because the MacBook means that you can work anywhere and you have ability to create on your own terms.”

She encouraged the girls to step out, confidently—because this moment in history is uniquely suited for them.

“You are at the beginning of a moment of monumental change in the world. It is a change that you are shaping,” Shoket said. “It is my wish in life to make sure that you feel so confident that you can walk into any room and own it.  That may not be a place that you feel you are today, but you have something important to say, you have confidence to be able to say it well and that your opinion needs to be heard.”

She also reminded them that even stars begin humbly, recalling just how insecure Taylor Swift seemed during her first photo shoot for Seventeen magazine.

“You need to remember that people are not born into that fabulous confidence. You have to work towards that, craft it and know that you will get there,” Shoket said. “I look at Taylor Swift on the cover of magazines now and she is owning it.”

Shoket said she enjoyed working in teen magazines, because of where her readers were.

“I love this moment in your life that is pure potential. You are at this precipice, at the beginning of an amazing adventure,” Shoket said. “The more confidence you have in your self and the more experience you have in the world, the more it shows in who you are.”

That being said, she also sympathized with the drama girls face in high school and encouraged the students to remember something legendary journalist Barbara Walters once told her.

“She said, ‘don’t imagine that your life now is the way it is always going to be. You have no idea the adventures that are in store for you and you have no idea how interesting your life can become.’ That is the mantra that I repeat over and over and over,” Shoket said. “You have no idea the twists and turns in life and the adventures are there to go get them. The opportunities for who you become are endless and interesting.”

Special Thanks to Keyser Images Photography for the photos of the event.

November 10, 2015 | By rmbarber | Category: High School Education, Schools

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