Two local students chosen as animators at NCYC Print
Written by Shari Gasper, For the Catholic Herald   
Thursday, Nov. 07, 2013 -- 12:00 AM
Megan Durst Katherine Kennedy
Megan Durst
Katherine Kennedy

DEFOREST -- When the lights go down and the music starts pumping during the opening ceremonies of the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) in Indianapolis this month, two DeForest area students will be among the dancers and singers on stage charged with firing up the crowd for the three- day conference.

Megan Durst and Katherine Kennedy, juniors at DeForest Area High School and members of St. Olaf Parish, will serve as NCYC "animators." About 75 youth from across the country were selected as animators to lead the prayer services and set the tone for the conference.

Application process

Durst and Kennedy applied for the role by completing a form, answering essay questions, and providing an audition video. Both girls demonstrated their singing, dancing, and speaking talents in their video.

"About a month after applying, I got an email saying I was an animator," said Durst. "It was very exciting!"

The two girls attended their first NCYC two years ago in Indianapolis. The conference is held every other year.

"My first year I had no idea what to expect," said Durst. "But when I saw the animators come out singing and dancing, I knew right then that I wanted to do it next time."

Kennedy agreed, saying "The animators were really into it and were inspiring," she said. "I wanted to sing and dance on the big stage and inspire others the same way."

Making the trip

In all, 20 high school students, two college students, and eight adult chaperones from St. Olaf Parish are making the trek to Indianapolis, between November 21 and 23. They will be a part of two busloads of students and chaperones attending NCYC from neighboring parishes in the Diocese of Madison.

The weekend schedule includes keynote speakers and workshop sessions addressing a wide variety of topics. There are also opportunities for Mass, Reconciliation, prayer and worship, recreation, and special activities, such as concerts, exhibits, and an interactive thematic park.

According to Durst, her first experience at NCYC made her realize how much God is a part of our lives even when we don’t realize it. For the past 23 months, she has been talking about her NCYC experience and its impact on her life.

"I’m excited for everybody going from my parish to learn what it’s all about," said Durst.

The girls know what to expect this year, but they get to experience it from a new perspective.

"Everybody will be watching us on stage," said Kennedy. "And we get to see how the convention is put together behind the scenes."

The animators gathered in Indianapolis in July for training and have been practicing ever since. They were each given a CD with the music and links to online videos to learn the dance moves.

They leave two days before their friends from St. Olaf so they can have a full day of rehearsal on stage at Lucas Oil Stadium before the other attendees arrive.


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