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The yearly Teen Read Fest gives local students a chance to confidently present their creative work andhave a hand in running the show.

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Creative middle and high school students are slated to present their award-winning work this month at the 15th annual Teen Read Fest sponsored by the Seminole County Library. Participants submitted poems, short stories, videos, or posters earlier this year for Seminole County librarians to judge, and members of the Teen Library Council (TLC) will volunteer for this exciting event.

Diane Keyes, the youth services librarian at the Oviedo branch, states that having a local competition such as this gives more students the opportunity to win and participate than a national competition would offer. “Not only do the kids have a chance to be rewarded for their creative work, they also have a chance to help run the show,” she says.

Two of the students from the Oviedo TLC are emcees for the event, which means they will speak for over an hour in front of 150 or more adults. Camilla Omar, one of this year’s emcees and the president of the Oviedo TLC, got together with her co-emcee, Jacob Shank, to plan what they will say. “We’re going to start off with some jokes to get things started, that way, people will be comfortable presenting their work,” she says. Jacob agrees. “We want it to be fun for everybody,” he says. Both plan to submit entries: Omar a short story and Shank a video. Neither wanted to divulge the name of their entries to ensure the element of surprise on the big night.

Two other students from the Oviedo TLC also plan to attend and volunteer their time at this year’s event. Laura Small is the fifth member of her family to volunteer for the TLC and is an avid reader at that. High school senior Matthew Workman, who lends his brawn as well as brains in restacking and shifting books from one location to another will also be there.

What does this event do for them? “A lot… they grow and develop self-confidence. And they give a lot as well, not just to Teen Read Fest, but to the other, ongoing programs we have throughout the year,” says Keyes, who spearheaded the TLC 13 years ago.

Now, a number of other public libraries in Seminole County have TLC groups that meet on a monthly basis. Activities often include a speaker and something fun to do. Keyes explains, “We’ve had people come in and talk about subjects that affect teens and then have a fun game that involves some aspect of reading to follow up. And we always send volunteers and attend the Teen Read Fest every March.”

This year’s Teen Read Fest takes place on Thursday, March 5, 2015, at 7:00 p.m. in the Seminole County Board of County Commissioners Chambers.

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