Hushed conversations echoed through the freshman cafeteria of duPont Manual High School. Some students sat in haphazardly placed chairs around tables but most stood congregated in groups.
The volume of their voices slowly grew. Their voices gained more momentum until the high-schoolers didn’t realize that they were yelling to be heard.
“Heeeeyyy everybody!” a voice said, the force of it ringing through the ears of each Y-Club student.
“Hey what?” the students yelled, then fell into silence.
“Welcome back from winter break! Today we’re going to be starting our meeting with a game, so get excited!” Chloe Hall said, practically jumping on her tiptoes.
Chloe proceeded to explain an activity related to the upcoming conference, KUNA. Each student would receive a card with a country on it. They would ask questions to learn about their country. The goal was going to a corner of the room that coincided with the continent they were located on.
Chloe, with family and friends, overlooking a drop-off. Photo courtesy of Chloe Hall.
Turning into a leader
With each word of the explanation, her small figure appeared much larger than she seemed. Every student had their eyes on her and she knew it. Her voice was close to giving out but she had only a couple more instructions to go.
When she sat, her hands shook uncontrollably, smiling out at the hundred member club as she slowed down her breathing. She cleared her head and prepared herself to speak again.
Chloe Hall is one of the four officers on the board of the duPont Manual Y- Club, one of the largest clubs in the school. She recommended the change of structure from one president to a board organization.
duPont Manual Y Club is celebrating our KUNA countries at our prep meeting for #KUNA2019 !!! #welcomingweek #yforall @kyymca
In middle school, KYYMCA conferences did not mean as much as they do to Chloe now. “My seventh and eighth grade years, I didn’t really see the Y as something to love,” said Chloe.
When Chloe came into high school Y-Club, she held very little affection for the Y. This was until she met a senior named Isaac Weiss, who knew everything there was to know about politics. Chloe wanted to be him. So, she downloaded twelve news apps on her phone and brags that she’s at his level today.
“Chloe prioritizes the needs of the club and works hard to constantly improve it, and she always works carefully to make sure every member in the club’s needs are met,” said Marilyn Buente, another officer of Y- Club.
Chloe Hall posing on a cliff, overlooking a huge valley. Photo courtesy of Chloe Hall.
The club officers have worked to improve Y- Club monumentally this year, taking steps to shift the club away from the original structure. Where it used to be one person leading the whole club, responsibilities are more delegated under the system where there are several leadership roles in different specific Y-Club niches. Fundraising, service chair and social media are all examples of how bureaucracy has grown.
“She leads more behind the scenes,” said Ms. Causey, the sponsor of Y-Club. “The members of the club don’t fully understand her leadership when they don’t see her not taking on another role because she would rather encourage someone else to try something new.”
Y- Club is a way for Chloe to focus on spreading information efficiently, just as she wants to in the future with public policy, through communication. One of Chloe’s closest friends, Audrey Champelli, sees a lot of similarities between herself and Chloe.
Chloe Hall at a much younger age celebrating in the forest with her Girl Scout troop. Photo courtesy of Chloe Hall.
“She cares a lot about the things she cares about,” said Audrey, “She focuses in so deep that she tends to get attached to certain ideas enough that she can be let down when she sets as high bars for others that she does for herself.”
“The community that I’ve found in Y- Club is so strong and it’s shaped me so much,” said Chloe.
We are waiting patiently for the mixer!!!! pic.twitter.com/nlyvjDWr4n— duPont Manual Y Club (@ManualYClub) November 17, 2018
Over time, Chloe has learned that welcoming communities like the KYYMCA are the best opportunities for her to grow and absorb. She was even raised up in a program that pushes female empowerment and developing survival skills.
A future Girl Scout
“My wife is a Girl Scout leader, all three of my daughters have been Girl Scouts and I’m a Girl Scout,” said Kent Hall, Chloe’s father. “So, Chloe’s basically grown up a Girl Scout, being around them her whole life.”
Chloe’s mother, Laura, was the head chef at Camp Shanituck, a Girl Scout day-camp in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. The summer before Chloe was born, she was in her mom’s womb, at camp before she even knew what Scouts was. When she was old enough, Chloe started out in Daisies, beginning her journey of discovery through Girl Scouts.
“The top achievement of a Girl Scout is to get your Gold Award. The goal is to take everything that you’ve learned from being a Girl Scout, then take a community problem and try to solve it.” said Mr. Hall.
After her two sisters had already gone through the process of their Gold Awards, Chloe took it as second nature to finish her journey by completing hers. She did not decide to take an easy route in completing this but a more complicated one that hits very close to home. Or in her case, close to the people who do not have homes.
“I volunteer with my church and I have learned that the homeless organizations within Louisville have no cohesion whatsoever,” said Chloe.
Her goal: send out a survey to as many homeless organizations possible to learn what the most successful methods of outreach are, when they volunteer, what they partake in and if they would be interested in being involved in her project. Then, she will compile as much of this information, plus personal interviews into a website and Google Calendar so volunteers can access a resource immediately to see which organization would fit their preferences best.
Chloe Hall presenting her backpack defense earlier this year.
The ambitious plan led Chloe to meet with Julie Crawford, her past Girl Scout leader, to work out certain details. As soon as she arrived at Julie’s home, Julie wrapped Chloe into a bear-hug and invited to sit down.
Julie and Chloe first met in sophomore year when Chloe returned to Camp Shanituck not as a camper but as an “aide”, or camp counselor.
“Being an aide at a day-camp is the best because the kids are there but then they leave, so the evenings are just the older girls, making it more like a week long sleepover,” said Chloe.
That summer, Chloe was not only aiding but searching for a new troop, for her old one had fallen apart as the girls had grown older. Friday evening, she found more than she could ask for.
Slipping into the camp kitchen at three in the morning, looking for a late, late-night snack, Chloe and three seniors tip-toed as silently as possible. Occasionally, they would pause, wracked with giggles for no specific reason. The four girls all sat down, talking for what seemed like hours about everything and nothing.
“Chloe,” one girl whispered.
“Yes?” Chloe whispered back.
“You need to join our troop,” the girl said, stating it as if they hadn’t been awake for almost twenty four hours straight.
Chloe’s eyes immediately brightened. This was it. She didn’t mention it again the rest of the night but she knew that she belonged with those girls, even if it was only for one year. She emailed their troop leader, Julie, a week later to see if they would welcome a stray sophomore into their community.
“A sophomore girl is like kryptonite for seniors,” said Mr. Hall, “but they all loved Chloe, so they bonded super quickly.”
Getting the Gold Award
Julie has been through all of Chloe’s previous troop, now graduated and their Gold Awards, so she was someone that Chloe knew could advise her.
The Gold Award meeting was a healthy balance of professional and casual, as it awards the scouts for their accomplishments. Julie ate a bowl of cereal and responded to questions while Chloe planned her timeline, survey questions and her answer for how her project would be self-sustaining.
Chloe Hall poses for the camera in the woods with some of her friends. Photo courtesy of Chloe Hall.
“We have to ask, ‘Are we doing it because it’s impactful or helpful? Or are we doing it because it makes us feel good?’.” said Julie.
Chloe was inspired to tackle homelessness in her Gold Award by her passion for using housing as an equalizer, which she conducted a research project on during her junior year.
“When I conducted my research project about the Russell Neighborhood and the rebuilding project being put forth there, I did not see myself finding a future career,” said Chloe.
A research paper on the effectivity of involving the community in rebuilding efforts led to Chloe learning about the Choice Neighborhoods program that the Obama housing administration created. She met Jackie Floyd, an organizer of the Russell neighborhood revitalization and was struck by her passion about community.
“The reason I want to go into public policy is that there are people in government who are creating programs like this, programs that are actually resulting in change,” said Chloe.
Chloe’s dad is always standing by to cheer her on and pushing her when he thinks she needs it.
Chloe Hall pictured with her mom and dad, her biggest supporters. Photo courtesy of Facebook.
“She gets a bit of that tunnel vision. All she wanted to work on was her research project last year,” said Mr. Hall, “This year she has focused a lot more on balancing out all of her time.”
Kent Hall worked for twenty-seven years at the Jefferson County Clerk’s office and he tended to bring his opinions on work home. He wouldn’t start arguments but what he considered “spirited debates” at the dinner table, starting Chloe on a path of arguing her opinions.
“When I first joined Y-Club,” said Chloe, “I thought every piece of legislation had a flaw in it because of my dad’s grumbles about work. I didn’t believe in big government interference in politics. Now, because of my interest in affordable housing, so much has changed.”
Taking the next step forward
Chloe sees many flaws in how the government practices still but what bothers her the most is the fact that no one in the government ever attempts getting to the root of them. As a Y-Club officer and in life, Chloe wants to fix the systems that are inherently weak. Her future is at Vanderbilt, a college that will lead her to many new communities.
“I’m gonna miss her,” said Ms. Causey “She has worked so hard for the club, designing it in a way that didn’t mean she had to talk every single meeting in front of so many kids.”
Corrine Jefferies, Nina Render and Chloe Hall at the Annual Y-Club White Elephant Christmas Gift Exchange. Photo by Norah Wulkopf
Even though every time she speaks in front of an audience, Chloe needs to take a break to recuperate for a few minutes after, she has been able to find her voice through the communities that she’s in.
As an aide at a Girl Scout camp, there is no way that Chloe could get through a week without leading a song circle.
All of the young girls cluster around without knowing exactly what’s going to happen next but they somehow pick up on the cues that it’s time to listen. A shout rings out, singing one of their favorite camp songs.
Hundreds of small voices began to chime in, building up more and more power until the circle resembles a high school locker room before the big game, thundering rhythms filling every spot of silence.
There is a pause as the aides wait for someone to step forward to lead another song. Chloe has only spoken with soft smiles and choice phrases the whole day but she wants to sing her favorite song so badly that she steps up. She opens her mouth to begin it and nothing but a loud voice crack comes out.
Without enough use, her voice was nothing. Chloe goes beet red but nonetheless, continues with the song, the other aides joining in without hesitation.
Chloe remembers this moment but no one else does. Others remember how she continued to step up during song circles, until junior year she could lead one with the ferocity of a drill sergeant.
“I just kept on singing what I knew and loved and I kept on getting louder,” said Chloe.
One of the projects that Chloe worked on in her extracurricular involvement. Photo courtesy of Chloe Hall.
At the end of the Y- Club meeting, Chloe heads back up in front of the club, a slight skip in her step.
“Today we’re closing out the meeting with a song,” Chloe said, bellowing, “This is a repeat after me song! And a do as I do song!”
The students rush to repeat her words as they stand.
“YOU CAN’T RIDE IN MY LITTLE RED WAGON!” Chloe said, her face turning red along with the other officers screaming the song.
Every club members’ eardrums rattled with the return of the phrase thrown back at the officers.
“THE FRONT SEATS BROKEN AND THE AXLE’S DRAGGIN’!” the officers hurled at the students.
“CHUGGA, CHUGGA, CHUGGA CHUGGA CHUGGA!” Chloe said, getting right in the faces of students sitting down instead of making the hand motions and singing the well- known Y song.
She stayed in front of them until they stood up and she didn’t care if she embarrassed them. They wouldn’t regret screaming in the end and she knew it.
Featured image provided by the KYYMCA Media-Corps team.