Maloney High sophomore named Black Heritage Teen Ambassador

Friday, June 7, 2013
Meriden Record Journal
Waterbury, CT

Maloney High sophomore named Black Heritage Teen AmbassadorJeff Gebeau

Maloney High School sophomore Tyler Ivester was named this year’s Meriden Black Heritage Teen Ambassador, a title formerly known as Meriden Black Expo Teen Ambassador.

Ivester competed against fellow finalist Malanie Young in a talent contest Friday evening at Mount Hebron Baptist Church. Ivester offered a moving rendition of “The Day You Gave Me A Son” by Babyface for his performance, while Young delivered a hip-hop dance routine.

Ivester explained the special significance of his song. The newest teen ambassador wasn’t supposed to be born, as his mother, April, had been told by doctors that she couldn’t have children.

Co-chairwomen Cynthia McQuiller and Angela Simpson served as event judges, along with Bristol barbershop owner Lexie Mangum. Mangum was particularly impressed by the way the contestants “presented their craft.”

“We can see that they really want to do it,” he concluded.

Larry Elliott, director of New Opportunities of Greater Meriden Inc., which sponsors the teen ambassador program, said that the competitors displayed “extraordinary talent” and demonstrated “the kind of potential that our children have when they really apply themselves.”

The talent exhibition was the final criterion used to determine this year’s ambassador. The judges also considered the students’ academic records and their competition entrance essays.

Essays were required to be about 250 words in length and to reflect on the contestants’ own identities, as well as the reasons they would make an exemplary ambassador.

McQuiller said that in addition to submitting the essay, prospective ambassadors “must have one parent of African-American descent” and “be between grades 8 and 11” while maintaining a healthy academic standing.

As the new ambassador, Ivester will be expected to participate in service activities, appear at specified events, and take part in various programs that “involve the community,” McQuiller said. Mayor Michael Rohde works closely with the program and occasionally asks the teen ambassador to attend other functions and serve in other capacities, McQuiller said.

McQuiller explained the greater purpose of the teen ambassador competition. The enterprise, she said, teaches “ethnic pride, community involvement, self-awareness, and determination” to young African-American men and women in order to bolster their “commitment to values such as community service, personal responsibility and respect.”

The naming of the Meriden Black Heritage Teen Ambassador has served historically as a kickoff to the Meriden Black Heritage Festival — formerly called Meriden Black Expo — but the two events are in the process of severing connections and will no longer share an affiliation next year.

Festival Chairwoman Brenda Shuler said Ivester will be recognized at this year’s celebration and have the opportunity to make brief remarks.

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