CHARLESTON, W.Va. - When you're 16, giving a presentation in front of your classmates is scary.
But even scarier is giving that presentation to a room full of adults.
That's what Cayla Black did Wednesday at the Charleston Area Alliance's first "Kanawha Valley Speaks" conference.
That conference bills itself as a "student-centered dialogue of the future." It brings together local people from the business community and students from career and technical education backgrounds to discuss a vision for the future of the Kanawha Valley.
Four groups of students gave presentations Wednesday on their own version of that vision. They came up with the presentations on their own but were coached through the presentation process by a mentor in the business community assigned to them by the Alliance.
The teens presented a broad range of ideas: One group wanted to establish a new 5K race in Boone County with proceeds benefiting cleanup efforts for the Coal River. Another girl was vying for more public art projects in Charleston.
Black's subject was education reform.
She polled students at her school, Clay County High, about whether they'd like more career days (they would) or to have their parents more involved (they'd rather not, but Black thinks it would be good for them anyway).
Black said she was inspired to talk about education reform because of her own experience with the system.