Young Women in Excellence. Oooh boy.
As Personal Progress leader, I was told this was my big night. Having no idea what was required and having little memory of Young Women in Excellence's from my time in Young Women, I turned to Pintrest where I came across the idea of doing an oscar night theme. Obviously, this was appealing to me. I ran it by the other Young Women leaders and they loved it. Our theme was: You are a Star; A Light in the Darkness.
The idea was that our Young Women are Stars. We sent them a Hollywood-esque invitation and I even typed out a letter to each of our "nominees" (The girls getting Personal Progress ribbons) in the style of the Academy Awards. I sent a similar letter to the girls who were not getting ribbons, asking them to be our presenters. The Laurel Class president was our Host, and a Young Women who had already completed her Personal Progress was our main presenter.
We had a red carpet lined with lights running down the middle aisle.
One of the Young Women leaders is a professional photographer and took a glamour shot of each Young Women a few Sundays prior. She and another leader then painted frames gold and set up this beautiful display:
We had balloons with long gold ribbons and stars dangling from the ceiling.
I wanted to feature the beehives in some way, since most of them were too new to be getting ribbons. I asked them to do a poster to display at the event. if they did it, it counted toward a Personal Progress experience.
The program was very simple: song (Lead, Kindly Light) , prayer, I gave a talk (2 minutes and twelve seconds long!) the Young Women president gave a short talk, and then was watched the most AMAZING video made by our camp leader. She used pictures and videos of the girls over the last year to make this incredible video which we projected on the giant screen, and wired into the building's audio so we had surround sound.
After the video was the awards:
Each "category" was whatever combination of ribbons the Young Woman happened to be getting. For example, we had a a category for Divine Nature and Integrity, and another one for Faith, Good Works and Virtue. That way each girl only came up once. It also made it more dramatic.
Our main presenter had a script which I made out of the mottos for each of the values. For example she would say: "The Divine Nature and Integrity Award exemplifies a daughter of Heavenly Father who is striving to develop her divine qualities by having the moral courage to make her actions consistent with her knowledge of right and wrong." and the other presenter would then say "And the award goes to..." open the envelope and read the name. The girl would come up the red carpet, accept her ribbons, then give a two minute "acceptance speech" where she talked breifly about her value projects and bore her testimony.
And the award goes to...
We then had a slideshow of the girl getting her Young WoamnHood Recognition Award, then the Bishop gave a talk and presented the medallion to her. She then gave a wonderful testimony, we had a closing song (Teach Me to Walk in the Light) and prayer and done! Total time: 45 minutes! Hooray!
This was our handout for each of the Young Women to take home. The bag is filled with StarBursts, of course.
The best part was the beginning: I had announced our "Red Carpet Event" would be at 6:30, with the actual event starting at 7:00. I did this in hopes that everyone would arrive a few minutes before 7:00, instead of several minutes after.
Well, it worked! Most of the girls had arrived by 6:45! Once a girl arrived, she was ushered onto the red carpet where her parents and our professional photographer snapped several photos while she posed and smiled in her formal dress.
After the pictures, I would rush in and ask if I could ask her some questions. I had someone video tape all the "interviews" and basically I acted like those reporters on the Red Carpet. I had prepared a few questions for each girl; questions about their value projects, their most recent personal progress experience and the role they would be playing that night, and finished each interview with "Tell us about what you are wearing."
I was surprised how much the girls got into this. Each girl treated the interview very seriously, acting as if they really were a star on the red carpet. It was awesome. I'm not sure what I'll do with all the footage, but I have it!
Here is my talk, which is mostly straight out of the Personal Progress book.
We are here to celebrate the young women’s participation in Personal Progress over the last year. The requirements for personal progress are:
Attend sacrament meeting regularly
Live the standards in For the Strength of Youth.
Attend seminary if of seminary age.
Read the Book of Mormon regularly.
Keep a personal journal.
Have a testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ.
And complete the value experiences and value project for each of the eight values.
So why do all this? Participating in Personal Progress teaches you to make commitments, carry them out, and report your progress to a parent or leader. The patterns you establish as you work on Personal Progress—such as prayer, scripture study, service, and journal keeping—will become personal daily habits. These habits will strengthen your testimony and help you learn and improve throughout your life. It will teach you how to receive personal revelation, which you need to reach your potential in life. It may not seem like a life changing decision to do Faith experience #1, but every time you make that choice to say your personal prayer, you are shining a little brighter. Each scripture verse you read imparts upon you the spirit and light of Christ. Every act of service you perform, no matter how small, is you acting as Christ would act. These little things all add up to who you are, and you are a star. You are a beloved daughter of Heavenly Father, prepared to come to the earth at this particular time for a sacred and glorious purpose. You have a noble responsibility to use your strength and influence for good.
In John 8:12 our Savior says: I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
The Personal Progress program is designed around Jesus Christ. Working on our Personal Progress means walking in the light. The longer we walk in the light, the more that light becomes a part of us, until we are the ones shining, the ones radiating the light of Christ wherever we go. We will reach our divine potential and shine with the light of life. We will be stars.