Annika Marshall

My mom and I made our first trip to Dee’s Dance Design when I was less than four years old, navigating back roads to find the little house that was home to Dee’s ballet shoes, tights, and leotards. The store was small, but upon entering, my imagination was endless. Tugging on the pink canvas slippers, I was the Sugar Plum Fairy pirouetting through the Land of Sweets, orAurora waltzing with her prince.

I could not have pursued these dreams without access to ballet apparel at Dee’s DanceDesign. The shop always offered the most reasonable prices on ballet supplies, which are often notoriously expensive at larger dance stores, and all customers were guaranteed quality service from an owner with dance experience. A ballet leotard from larger companies commonly costs fifty dollars; Dee’s were rarely more than thirty.

Because of this exceptional service, as reflected through its A+ Better Business Bureau rating, Dee’s remains a staple of the local dance community, and has not only impacted my own dance experience, but the experiences of dancers all over the Portland area. The ballet school thatI attend is small, low-priced, and heavily reliant on honest local businesses to serve its students. I have spent hours during studio work days sifting through bins full of old costumes, each one containing a memory of a little girl’s first time on stage, or a dedicated student’s favorite solo.And behind all that are local businesses willing to serve small studios and ordinary families with reasonable prices and thoughtful service.

As a dancer, I must have a great deal of trust. Every time I do a pirouette, I put the entirety of my body weight on the tip of a pointe shoe that is smaller than a fifty-cent piece. It takes tremendous core strength, but more importantly, the ability to relax into the turn and trust that my shoe can hold up. Ethical business, in my opinion, works the same way. The transparency, integrity, and commitment to serving customers that the BBB advocates for make up the foundation of the relationship between a community and its local businesses. My family and my dance studio have been fortunate enough to have Dee’s Dance Design as a constant source of accessible dance apparel and an example of trustworthy business.

A year or so after my first trip to Dee’s, my ballet fantasies reached beyond the shop and into my very first recital as a cotton candy dancer. As I jubilantly skipped on stage in my ruffly blue costume, I thought of little but the exhilaration of the bright lights and violin music. But even if it didn’t enter my mind, I carried the honest, ethical business practices of Dee’s with each step I took in my crisp ballet slippers. The impact of Dee’s Dance Design is celebrated with every local ballet performance that delights the community, a tribute to its unfailing commitment to upholding BBB standards and ethically serving Portland dancers.

Tell us a little about yourself
I have a variety of interests, but one thing that has consistently fascinated me throughout my life is words. As an active member of my school’s speech and debate team and Creative Writing Club, I have refined my vision for my future goals: using my passion for language to serve others. Last June, I spoke to an auditorium of teachers about how to better connect with their introverted students. I was thrilled at their thoughtful questions and responses; one teacher came up to me afterwards and enthusiastically told me that her daughter and many of her students were introverts, and this was the first time she had received instruction on how to meet their needs. Experiences like these, with all their creative and analytic rigor, have contributed to my passion for communication. I not only enjoy the simple challenge of crafting a well-written essay, but also making an impact through the messages I deliver. Because of this, I aspire to study political science at a four-year university, then apply the skills I learn from the versatile major to careers centered around language, such as law, humanities research, or professional writing. Aside from pursuing lofty ambitions, however, I believe I lead a well-rounded life; I love to watch Gilmore Girls with my sisters, make chocolate chip cookie dough, and curl up on the couch with a Harry Potter book.
List and explain any awards received related to academic achievement
1) AP Scholar with Honors. This award through the College Board indicates that I have earned a score of at least 3 out of 5 on three full-year AP exams. I have taken five AP classes while in high school, including AP Chemistry and AP U.S. History, as well as three honors courses this year. These rigorous classes have been some of the most beneficial components of my education through the tenacity and in-depth thinking I have developed through them.
2) National Speech and Debate Association: Special Distinction. This award through the NSDA, which is a national academic honor society, indicates that I have earned at least 500 membership points through competing in speech and debate events. Currently, I have earned approximately 700 points, which means that I will soon be eligible for the NSDA’s “All American” award, an award for the top speech and debate competitors in the nation. 
3) National Honor Society. At my high school, students are invited to join NHS if they have a 3.5 GPA or higher, and achieve active membership through completing 25 hours of community service each year. By accepting this academic honor, I have received the opportunity to act as a leader in my school through tutoring other students and participating in service events.
Describe at least three school-related extra-curricular activities
1) Speech and Debate. I have competed with my school’s speech and debate team since freshman year, and currently serve as the team’s Debate Captain. Out of all my extra-curricular activities, speech and debate is by far the most impactful; I love the opportunity it provides to advocate for issues I am passionate about, develop the ability to think on my feet, and stay informed about political issues. Typically, I compete in about ten weekend tournaments per year in various speaking events, as well as parliamentary debate, an impromptu form of debate. Last spring, I won fourth in state with a speech advocating for accomodation for introverted personality types in education. 
2) Ethics Bowl. This was my third year competing in the Oregon High School Ethics Bowl, a philosophy competition at Portland State University. In the competition, opposing teams discuss the moral dimensions of various ethical dilemmas, such as gerrymandering and employment discrimination against smokers. Because of my experiences in Ethics Bowl, I have discovered that I am fascinated by philosophy, and have cultivated teamwork and critical thinking skills. Additionally, since my team is coached by a PSU professor, I have been exposed to the type of discussion format and depth that I will experience in college.
3) DECA. This year is my first year in DECA, a business competition that I was exposed to through an accounting class that I am currently taking. I recently competed in HR Management and Business Law and Ethics, and qualified to Internationals by placing second in the management exam and fourth overall in the HR Management event. Although I do not plan on pursuing a business career, I am thrilled to learn more about topics that will be applicable to any work I do in the future, such as personal finance.
Explain at least one leadership role that you have held
I have held several leadership positions, such as the Debate Captain of my speech and debate team and the secretary of my National Charity League class, but my most impactful leadership experience has been serving as a counselor-in-training at Trout Creek Bible Camp. As a camp counselor, my job is to love my campers and help them learn how to have a relationship with God. This experience has greatly improved my confidence in leading groups, making decisions, and solving conflict. One time, I had an incredibly unruly cabin, and learned that an effective strategy for taming conflict was to pull individual girls aside to talk while cradling my trusty stuffed animals, Frederick the mule deer and Glen the polar bear. This allowed me to deal with problems away from the hectic group, and helped the girls feel loved on an individual level. I am grateful for the leadership skills that being a camp counselor has produced in me, and humbled by the impact that the position allows me to make on my campers’ lives.