Manny Elsar, 17, was one of 75 Georgia high school juniors and seniors selected for Leadership Unplugged: A CNN Experience.
The Acworth teenager said he heard about the opportunity last year from his business adviser and it sounded like a good opportunity.
“I knew I needed better media skills and felt like it would be a good program to help me become a more media-savvy person,” Manny said.
The presentations and workshops, led by CNN executives and journalists, focused on a wide range of topics including diversity, ethics in media and show production.
Manny said the topic that most interested him was media ethics.
“It’s really interesting because I like the idea of presenting yourself in a genuine way,” Manny said. “I learned a lot about newsgathering, too, and what you should choose as an actual source.”
In addition to the classes and workshops, the students worked in teams to develop story ideas based on the day’s topics. The week concluded with the student teams presenting their ideas before a panel of judges composed of CNN and TBS executives.
Next year, Manny will be co-editor of The Talon, Etowah’s student newspaper, and said he hopes to bring some of the things he’s learned back into the classroom.
“I just want the whole newspaper staff to be more close and have a better sense of responsibility,” Manny said. “I want us all to be more self-sufficient and not always have to run to (our adviser) with questions.”
On top of his newspaper responsibilities, Manny will also be vice president of Beta Club, a student ambassador and a member of student government.
He said the CNN experience has also helped him learn more about other people, perspectives and backgrounds.
“We have a lot of the same personalities at Etowah so it’s cool to see other people interested in (media) and all of their different ideas,” Manny said.
After graduating next year, Manny said he hopes to go to either Georgia State University or Georgetown University to study international relations and minor in either Spanish or journalism.
Susan Grant, executive vice president of CNN News Services, said the event is an amazing opportunity for students to learn about the media industry.
“My CNN colleagues and I are excited to offer these remarkable young people a platform to further develop their personal leadership skills, as well as learn more about some of the challenges facing media professionals every day,” Grant said.
For more information about the program, visit www.21stcenturyleaders.org/for-students/summer-programs/leadership-unplugged/