For the past 25 years, my wife, Sandra, and I have had the privilege of attending Teen Board. I join with other mayors in East Tennessee hosting a reception and dinner for our respective presentees.
This year Cleveland was represented by Elizabeth Brooks of Cleveland High School and Allison Kimball, a student at Silverdale. Elizabeth is the daughter of Tennessee Representative and Mrs. Kevin Brooks, and Allison is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Kimball.
Being chosen as a presentee is a true honor for these young ladies. The Teen Board of Knoxville honors rising high school seniors from Knoxville and surrounding towns for their dedication to volunteer work in their hometowns. The event, held at the Civic Coliseum, is the culmination of at least 50 hours of volunteer work divided between community-building projects sponsored by the Teen Center.
The Teen Center was founded by the late Frances Moncier. Shortly after her daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mrs. Moncier wanted to create a positive outlet for Knoxville teens. Knoxville Teen Board later expanded to include girls from surrounding cities.
This year the teenagers at our Mayors’ Dinner had the honor of hearing remarks from U.S. Congressman John “Jimmy” Duncan of Knoxville. He recalled how he took part in the Teen Board event years ago and what an impact it had on his life. He appealed to the young people to take some time away from the TV, computer and social media distractions to enjoy every minute of their youth and their life.
Referring to his own white hair, he reminded them it won’t be long “... until you look in the mirror and your hair looks like mine. Time moves quickly and you need to get out, enjoy the outdoors, spend more time enjoying activities and less time in front of the TV.”
The message was well received as the teens looked to the distinguished congressman with much admiration and respect. Congressman Duncan is a board member of the Teen Board of Knoxville and has attended many events through the years. Other dignitaries have included the mayor of Knoxville and former UT Vols Coach Phillip Fulmer. The teens always look forward to the event and the special guests who often appear.
The Teen Board is active in Knoxville, but purposely keeps a very low profile. The actual presentation is skillfully and carefully orchestrated and is similar to an old Southern presentation ball, only in honor of the presentees' volunteer work. They must do 50 hours to be presented, but many of them have over 100.
This year, our Cleveland girls were accompanied by a host of their friends and families who came to Knoxville for the event. We dined with the two beautiful girls and their escorts. Spending time with them was enlightening and refreshing as they chatted about their plans, their hopes, their dreams and the presentation event that night.
Elizabeth was escorted by Grant Bottoms, a CHS student, and Allison was escorted by Jake Ramsey, also of CHS. All four of these young people were polite and full of enthusiasm. I could not have been prouder of our delegation of young people who attended.
Watching the young people interact and take part in Teen Board Presentation and Ball is always a rewarding weekend. It puts the community’s “best of the best’ together in one large gala evening.
It is exciting to see our presentees from years past and learn where they are now and what they’re doing. Over the past 25 years, Sandra and I have kept in contact with many of them. It reminds us that the congressman’s remarks were right on target, “Time and life move quickly.”
Cleveland is “The City With Spirit,” and we have a bright, bright future in our next generation.