Aubrey group to hold first meeting

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Gavel club hopes to equip students with public speaking skills

A new club hoping to equip sixth- to ninth-grade students with skills for being successful public speakers and leaders will conduct its first meeting Thursday at the Aubrey Area Library.

The Aubrey Junior Gavel Club will meet from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the library located at 226 Countryside Drive in Aubrey. Weekly meetings are planned every Thursday. 

Frankie West, club counselor for the group, said the club will be beneficial for shy students while teaching leadership skills for the outgoing students who have no problem with public speaking. The club also will teach students how to be humble as well as offer leadership skills. Activities will include learning to speak in public, acting, comedy skits, learning to listen to others, lead group discussions and develop leadership and communication skills, according to the club website. 

Society has changed significantly from when West was a child, she said, adding it’s a tougher world for today’s students. West said the Aubrey Junior Gavel Club is designed to empower youngsters to find their voices.

“I hope that these are tomorrow’s leaders,” West said. “I think this will empower kids to speak up.

“I hope that out of this we can get a few senators, CEOs, attorneys.”

As of Friday, about 10 students had signed up for the club, West said, and membership is extended to any sixth- through ninth-grade students attending school in Aubrey, Pilot Point, Frisco, Little Elm, Tioga and Denton, according to the club’s website. Members will be asked to pay a one-time $20 sign-up fee to assist with the club’s start-up costs, West said, and $7 monthly dues that will support the club website, ribbons, awards, printing and supply expenses.

Her initial reason for establishing a Gavel club was a selfish one, West said, adding that her daughter, Erin, now 14, was an introvert.

West wanted to find something that would encourage her to speak and no longer be shy. A couple years ago, West involved Erin, who serves as Aubrey Junior Gavel Club president, in the Toastmasters Youth Leadership program. Toastmasters Youth Leadership is an eight-week session sponsored and led by Toastmasters International, an international nonprofit organization that trains youth in communication and leadership skills and of which the Aubrey Junior Gavel Club is an affiliate.

West said Erin “flourished” from the experience and prepared her for when she had to speak publicly at school. 

West co-sponsored the Youth Leadership program in Denton last year, according to the club website. She said it was rewarding to see the students develop and flourish. 

West said the positive experience with those children was another reason for establishing the new Gavel club. At some point, West said she would like to see the club branch out to multiple community clubs so that students can compete with one another. 

There’s nothing at the sixth-, seventh-, eighth-, and ninth-grade levels that teaches children how to come “out of their shell,” West said, adding she hopes the new club fills that void. 

“Unless kids have the opportunity to practice or be able to do this on a regular basis, they’ll never be able to,” West said. 

According to the Toastmasters International website, Gavel clubs operate in the same way as traditional Toastmaster clubs. The difference is Gavel club members, known as Gaveliers, are not privy to many of the “privileges and benefits” available to individuals with full Toastmaster membership, according to the site.

Membership to the junior gavel clubs is limited to those under age 18. 

For more information on the Aubrey Junior Gavel Club, visit aubreyjuniorgavelclub.com. 

BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876 and via Twitter at @BritneyTabor. 


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