McKinley Paltzik presented on behalf of the Girls Scouts on state bill 1184 regarding financial education and money management as part of the curriculum for students in Arizona. Her passionate speech was commented on by Aaron Lieberman, State Representative, via Twitter! McKinley is an eighth grade student at Phoenix Country Day School and a member of the PCDS Middle School Speech and Debate team. She was honored to be asked to speak in front of the legislature.
Q. Can you tell us how your involvement with the state legislature came about?
A. It started after I became a member of the Girl Scout Board. Recently, we have been working on a bill — SB 1099 — to allow representatives of patriotic youth groups (like the Girl Scouts) in Arizona to speak with principals of schools about their organization and encourage student participation. I was so excited to have been in the creation process of this bill because I believe every student should be given a chance to be a part of Girl Scouts, which has opened so many doors for me. I was then offered an opportunity to speak on an important issue for kids today, financial literacy, in front of the AZ House of Representatives. By speaking, I really feel like I did my part to ensure my generation will be better prepared for adulthood. I will soon be returning to the House to speak on SB 1099, and all because Girl Scouts has given me another opportunity to work for what I believe in.
Q. How long have you been a Girl Scout?
A. Since I was in first grade! My mom is my troop leader and her mom was her troop leader before that!
Q. Can you tell us about School of Ballet Arizona?
A. SBAZ has become one of my homes away from home — I’ve been dancing there since I was six years old. I love ballet because it is very structured and disciplined and also because it’s an outlet for me on stressful days. And ever since I was little, I loved dancing alongside the Company at Symphony Hall or the Orpheum Theatre. This is perhaps where my love of public speaking comes from; from a young age, I have always loved to perform.
Q. How has PCDS prepared you for your future?
A. As an eighth grader, I love the small classes that allow me individual attention from all of my teachers, I can take courses that challenge me in the best way possible and I know that I will be completely prepared for college and beyond because of the education I have been given. PCDS has also exposed me to Speech and Debate. I am currently the National Champion in two different events; Extemporaneous Speaking and Impromptu Speaking. Regardless of my success though, Speech and Debate has also pushed me to step outside my comfort zone. I never wanted to do Extemp or Impromptu… I thought they would be too hard. But my coach, Ryan Joyce, pushed me to do it despite my resistance — now he never lets me forget it! But really, I am so glad I decided to take that leap of faith because without it, I would have never gained the confidence to do anything that seemed frightening. Thanks to PCDS, I have found an activity that I am so passionate about because it enables me, a 14 year old girl, to have a voice. And because of that, I know I will be better prepared for whatever life throws at me.
Q. What do you do in the little free time that you have?
A. Obviously my life is pretty packed with activities… When I can take a second to breathe though, I love reading a book, playing with my dogs or listening to Taylor Swift (my friends love to tease me about my “slight obsession” with her).
Q. Is a legislative career in your future?
A. I’m not sure. Sometimes, even just as someone who speaks about the news in Speech and Debate, it gets pretty exhausting. Quite frankly, all the craziness and division surrounding politics today seems ridiculous to me. But I don’t want to completely dismiss the idea — I learned not to do that after trying Extemp! However, for a while now it has been my ambition to be a broadcast journalist so I’m keeping that in mind too!
A. Who’s your role model?
Q. My mom and dad are incredible role models for me — they are always pushing me to achieve my dreams but are also supportive if I want to take a break. They are both so hardworking and inspire me to always do my very best… I am so grateful that they encourage me in all my activities because I don’t think I would be the same person without their support. I know for a fact that wherever my life ends up taking me, they will be right behind me the whole way.