Posted: February 25, 2014

Shout it from the Rooftops

Monica Armenta, executive director of APS Communications, recognizes some of our unsung heroes. This week: High School Speech & Debate competitors.

I’ve been blessed in my lifetime to hear some of the most thought-provoking, respected and polished speakers of our time. I can now add New Mexico high school Speech and Debate competitors to that memorable list. Some of the students I had the pleasure of judging recently at the Highland High School Heartbreak competition advanced to the national qualifier round in Santa Fe, and I don’t envy those judges because the competition is fierce.

I judged the original oratory category. Students chose their topic and were judged on the effectiveness of development and presentation. These young presenters knew how to deliver; the time and effort that went into perfecting individual skills was impressive. But what really resonated were the messages.

All but one of the students in my group talked about how stressful it is to be a teenager in 2014 -- one even quoted a recent study that found it's more stressful to be a teenager now that it was during the Great Depression.

Stress was a universal theme, though the factors behind the strains varied. Most discussed academic pressures, pointing out the very real anxiety students experience when they have to perform on tests and compete among friends for scholastic opportunities like internships, scholarships and college admittance. It was a bit heartbreaking to hear one young man say he was jealous of his parents’ generation because they were afforded the luxury of reading for enjoyment rather than reading as a task.

Social media was another hot topic. For these young adults social media has both enhanced and complicated their lives. They relish the instant connectivity social media affords and having a creative outlet at their fingertips, but -- like so many of us -- they haven’t quite figured out the complicated web of responsibilities that goes with this form of communication.

I know for a fact that there is much to celebrate every day in Albuquerque Public Schools, but I left Highland High School feeling especially proud and hopeful. It’s always invigorating to be on a campus, and even more so to see the community come out in full force to help ensure an event is a success. Teachers, parents, siblings, friends and community members all make a difference to Albuquerque youth.  If you need proof of that, stop by a school event sometime and see for yourself what great things can happen when we support the next generation.

Filed under: parents