Meet Ally Swindell, a high school rising senior who has spent the last three years serving on Crystal Bridges’ Teen Council. In this post, she reflects on her time, sharing her experiences being a Teen Council Leader, and still finding ways to connect amid quarantine.
My name is Ally Swindell and I have been on Teen Council since my freshman year of high school. I will be a senior this fall, and I am looking forward to another wonderful year with our amazing group. Beginning last year, I have also served as a Teen Council Leader. Being in leadership requires more responsibility, but it has also taken my appreciation for Teen Council and Crystal Bridges to a new level.
My first two years on the council, I met so many extraordinary people that I wouldn’t otherwise have gotten the chance to and learned both about Crystal Bridges and art museums in general. From hosting and planning events for tweens and teens in our community to speaking to incredible artists and staff, we have been given countless unique opportunities. We have even gotten the chance to learn about other teen programs across the country and speak to some of their members.
This past year, I was selected to be a Teen Council Leader, which is a paid position. It opened up opportunities to lead meetings and take on more responsibility as well as to help in other parts of the museum. Some of my favorite spots in the museum have been the Library and the Studio, and I am looking forward to the next time I can help out in those spaces. Being in a leadership role has also given me the pleasure of getting to know some of the lovely volunteers and staff in Volunteer Services and I appreciate everything they do to help all of us.
In the wake of the current pandemic, Teen Council has been meeting virtually once a week, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to stay in contact with everyone. From our weekly drawings to our hilarious attempts at games and quizzes, I can always count on our calls to lift my spirits. It is nice to have something lighthearted to look forward to as everything else seems uncertain.
Until this November, we had been led by Holly York, who I appreciate greatly and who I am sure is thriving in her new position. Following her departure, Marie Hofer came to us and quickly became an integral part of Teen Council. Marie dove right in from the start as we hosted not only a TEN (Teen Experience Night) Event, but also a Tween Night in her first two months of being with us. Both events were successes and she has remained a staple even through the uncertainty of this pandemic. We also just welcomed Cayla Jones who works side-by-side with Marie to help improve Teen Council and make it the best it can be. Both of our fearless leaders are Education staff members who have been phenomenal additions to this program and we are incredibly grateful for both of them.
Ultimately, Teen Council has been more transformative for me than I could have ever predicted. I have learned not only from the artwork in the museum, but from my fellow members and leaders. This program means more to me than can be expressed in a blog post, but I can say this: I treasure every moment.
Crystal Bridges is seeking applications from creative, committed, and diverse high school students with an interest in art and community engagement to be part of the museum’s 2020-2021 Teen Council. Applications close on August 2. Visit our Teen Council page!
Written by Ally Swindell, Teen Council Leader.