Sean Davenport tries out the piano painted by members of a group called TALK, formed by Homewood-Flossmoor High kids, during the Dog Days event in Homewood, IL on Saturday August 18, 2012. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 24, 2012 6:02AM
Homewood-Flossmoor High School’s Theatre and Arts Leadership Kouncil is about more than art for senior Lyzz Joyce.
It’s about — as its name says — leadership.
The club started at the high school last year. But this TALK is different. While it has an adviser, the group’s pretty much left up to the students’ designs.
Joyce, 17, chairs the TALK group.
“It’s a way for teens in the area to get more involved in the arts and to become leaders through it, too,” Joyce said. “We already have an incredible arts program at Homewood-Flossmoor. This is more about leadership. It’s a lot of fun.”
She’s been impressed by younger members.
“You don’t often see a freshman telling a senior what to do,” she said with a laugh.
“All the meetings are pretty much teen-run. We organize when we are going to meet, what we talk about, even the events. All that happens is because the teens want it to be so,” Joyce said.
Teens run the meetings, organizing the particulars such as when they’ll meet and what they’ll discuss.
Still, TALK’s Youth Leadership Kouncil (YoLK) is far more than a group of teens socializing and maybe suggesting ideas for the organization. Actually, YoLK members are elected to their posts, and they learn to play an important role in setting direction, making decisions and managing the day-to-day operations of an organization.
“We decide what we do and don’t do. It’s going really well. Obviously, there are planning snafus once in a while, but I’ve never gotten a call complaining about why paint exploded all over a church or anything like that,” Joyce said, referring to a mural the TALK artists painted on the side of a Homewood church in about seven hours last year.
The adult advisor, private therapist Steve Ploum, has worked with teens for more than 20 years. It was his idea to start the group.
“I’m a musician, an art teacher, an art therapist. As a musician, I’ve worked with a lot of teen bands, and I’ve got to know some of the kids. Kids do some really cool things and have the ability and know-how to access the system. I know the school has an incredible arts program, but this takes it a step further.”
The club now has “probably 12 core kids and another 12 to 15 who have contributed,” Ploum said.
Leaders seem to rise up through the course of meetings, he said.
“They learn how to promote the group and how to send messages about who we are,” Ploum said.
He asked Joyce last year if she wanted to be part of “a cool new art thing,” she recalled.
“I’ve been really impressed so far by these ninth-graders who are kicking butt, leading meetings. What impressed me is their ability to approach older students and lead them. It’s hard to be a freshman and tell me, as a senior, what to do. I couldn’t have done that four years ago.”
Youths interested in learning more about TALK can visit the website at www.talksouthland.org where they’ll find an application form, Joyce said.