Today we hear from the Dardanelle High School EAST Conference team. The Dardanelle EAST program was awarded the Timothy R. Stephenson Founder’s Award at the recent EAST Conference in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The students reflect on what it was like to be part of the team, to attend Conference and win the Founder’s Award and what EAST means to them individually.
Being a Dardanelle High School EAST student is truly a privilege. Attending EAST Conference this year was an experience I’ll never forget. I met many people who inspired me to not be afraid of my goals, but to take huge goals one step at a time until I reach success. I wish every high school student could experience EAST Conference; it is a learning experience involving many aspects of daily life. I strongly suggest every EAST program participate in the Founder’s competition. It is extremely hard to complete unless all the objectives of EAST are strongly planted in the students as well as the entire program. I am extremely proud to be part of an amazing group of students to receive the Timothy R. Stephenson Founder’s Award. — Chloe Sims, 3rd-year EAST student
Our facilitator always tells us to “Go forth and do great things” and this year we went forth and did greater things than we thought we could. All of the hard work we put into the Founder’s competition paid off in the. After we won, we were all really excited about the whole process but we kept to what we were taught and were humble about it. Being a senior this year and a second-year EAST student, the accomplishment of earning the Founder’s honor meant a lot to me. This was a Conference to remember because of the projects we accomplished and the hard work we did on them. We will continue to go forth and do great things for a very long time. — Chace Crowell, 2nd-year EAST student
I may have joined the conference team a little late, but I immediately saw that we had a lot of good projects in our EAST Program. I was asked to help build our booth and quickly found my place among the group. We worked long hours on weekends and late after school trying to build the best booth we could. We went through a few ideas and eventually decided we would need two shelves to hold the computers we had built with grant money. We found some stainless steel shelves to top the structure, and I volunteered to build the base for them. They were heavy, but they looked great in the booth so we decided to use them anyway. However, the morning we were leaving for Conference, we discovered they would not fit on the bus so we had to take a few pieces off and replace them when we arrived.
At Conference, we got everything set up with few obstacles. The next day I browsed through the different booths and found many other programs that had good projects and collected a few ideas to take back to my EAST. At the banquet, I began to think we might not win Founder’s, but then they called our school’s name. I was very excited that all of our hard work had paid off. I realized something at that point. Founder’s is possible for any EAST program; all it takes is hard work, dedication, and the willingness to take the first step. To the many EAST programs out there: Go forth and do great things! — Logan Geurian, 3rd-year EAST student
EAST Conference came as a pretty big shock to all of us. I do not think any of us really expected our program to win the Founder’s competition. We definitely put a lot of work into our projects; however, the thought of actually seeing them up on the big screen still seemed pretty out there. I got to meet a lot of great people at Conference. These relationships with other programs and people will be put to work, as we are planning to collaborate in order to help more people. Overall, it was a really fun and educational experience, and I’m planning on going again next year. —Erik Grimes, 2nd-year EAST student
As a first-year EAST student, attending the EAST Conference in Hot Springs was breathtaking. I was recommended by one of my fellow team members to be part of the team, and proud because it was only my first year in EAST. And all of the work we did paid off. We won the most demanding competition in EAST — the Founder’s Award competition. Being a first-year EAST student, taking part in Conference and being part of the Founder’s competition — this was a conference I will always remember. Since I am a junior, I want to go to Conference next year so one of my fellow team members and I can lead the younger generation of EAST to “Go forth and do great things.” — Yushia Thao, first-year EAST student
The whole experience of EAST Conference and winning Founder’s has been surreal. Conference was definitely not what I expected. I had heard about being on the EAST Conference team from my classmates who had previously attended, and they recommended me to be a part of the team this year. It takes a lot of dedication to succeed at Conference because the competition is stiff. Everyone at Conference is so tech savvy it can be a little intimidating. But working with the team was great. Everyone had his or her own special abilities. People may think, “Well they won because they ran into the fewest problems.” That statement is not true. Our team just overcame the obstacles we faced. Five days before Conference the dynamics of our team changed and I ended up presenting the program to the PIA judges. The beauty of EAST is that even though so close to Conference we had to change presenters, we all knew the program so well that any of us could have taken on the responsibility.
EAST Conference has helped me to better understand the business world and how diverse it will be. I am thankful I had the opportunity to experience Conference because not many people have that kind of opportunity. — Justin Schultz, 2nd-year EAST student
East Conference has always been one of the highlights of the year. This was my third year and it has been special to me. I have met many new people, from the kids over at Two Rivers to Malcolm from CAST. Many may want to go for Founder’s, and to them I have to say: It’s a lot of work! That being said, the road to Founder’s was almost as rewarding as winning the prize. So to those who want to enter Founder’s: Go for it. Even if you do not win or get an Excellent rating, that does not mean your EAST program is not doing great things. I learned so much just from preparing the Founder’s video, things I will probably never forget. — Lucas Dorrough, 3rd-year EAST student
The journey to winning the Founder’s award was definitely not easy. Hours were spent over Christmas break and even late nights in the weeks before the deadlines. Our community does so much for us here at Dardanelle. I felt that we needed to “pay forward” all of their support by trying to win the Founder’s Award. Finding a goal worthy of achieving, and believing it can be achieved is a powerful force. EAST is a way of life; not just a class that you attend every day. I see now why we no longer call it EAST Lab. It is EAST! My experience at EAST Conference this year is something I will never forget. All of the struggles and the work that we put into it paid off, and we accomplished our goals. Any EAST Program willing to put forth the effort and do their best can achieve these same results. — Tanner Corbin, 2nd-year EAST student