Friday, February 27, 2009

SBEC Senior Katelyn Nichols is a Next Step Magazine Super Teen

“What’s good about your day?” Katelyn Nichols often asks people she encounters.

The SBEC senior says it fosters positive responses. It is a tactic she has learned through Imagine Memphis, an organization she helped found that is dedicated to civic engagement and making a positive impact in the community. This and other accomplishments contributed to her recent selection as Super Teen for "Next Step Magazine," which helps students prepare for life after high school.

Nichols has been involved in the performing arts since age 6, when she started taking Irish step dancing and voice. She has performed in numerous school and community productions and taken acting classes in New York and Los Angeles. Last spring the Hernando teen attended the iPOP acting competition in Los Angeles and placed fifth in the Top Actor of the Year category for the 13-17 age group. She will play Dorothy in SBEC’s spring production of The Wizard of Oz under the direction of drama instructor Judy DeFrehn, who speaks of Nichols’ leading-lady and leadership qualities.

“Katelyn is one of the hardest working young ladies I have ever had the privilege of working with,” DeFrehn says. “She has a wealth of natural ability, yet she is always willing to learn more and perfect her skills. Always the team player, Katelyn is a true encourager to every member of the team.”

Her experience in theater has bolstered her confidence for community work. For Imagine Memphis, she and other participants interview civic leaders and citizens to discuss ways to improve the city. “We call it appreciative inquiry,” she says. “We ask them what they like about Memphis, and it makes them realize what’s important. It’s cool to see how that changes perspective, and people come up with new ideas.”

Nichols is also working on an appreciative inquiry project for Bridge Builders, a leadership program that provides experiential learning for youth and adults in fighting racism, poverty and educational challenges.

President of the Thespian Society at SBEC and senior-class historian, Nichols squeezes in voice and dance lessons, play rehearsals and board meetings. She is also organizing a spring talent show at the school. College is next, to study theater and journalism, but she is not sure where.

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