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(Photo courtesy of Stephen Lu.)

The 16-year-old stepped to the microphone, brushed her hair from her face, then said, “‘Teenage angst is like the tides of the ocean; it comes and goes in waves that alternate between seething anger and crushing apathy. I know, melodramatic, but that’s how you feel sometimes when you’re a teenage girl.”

As a camper at Girls Talk Balk, a one-week camp at SMU for 16-year-old girls, she developed self-expression skills, from essay-writing to public speaking to e-mail etiquette, which will help her as she prepares to apply to college. Camp wraps up with a banquet for campers and their families where girls share their prose and poetry.

As potential first-generation college students, campers sample college life by living with a roommate in residence halls and dining on campus. They develop communication skills to help them complete college and scholarship applications and succeed in college once they get there. The camp boasts an enviable record for its first five years: Every girl who has attended the camp has gone to college.

Camp this year runs July 16-20, 2012.

Most Girls Talk Back campers attend Dallas Independent School District’s Irma L. Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School, the first all girls’ public magnet school in Texas, which opened in 2004. Irma Rangel Young represents a growing trend in public education – three single-sex public schools opened in 1996, now more than 540 public schools nationwide offer at least single sex classrooms. Statistics show that underprivileged students in particular benefit from single-sex schools.

The girls learn to tell their stories at camp,” says camp director Marilyn Swanson, director of the talented and gifted program at SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development. I love to watch them blossom.

(Story courtesy of Nancy George, the Senior Public Information Officer at Southern Methodist University.)