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Passion in Progress Festival encourages 'big-picture thinking'

On March 25 the second annual Passion in Progress Festival will be held at City Honors School. The festival is an extension of the Bezos-sponsored Aspen Scholars Institute, and has once again been made possible by the support of the Bezos Foundation. All high school students are invited to attend this free event.

The Passion in Progress Festival will celebrate the cultural richness of the community, the formulation of ideas into action, and the vast potential teenagers have today. Inspired by the concept of "what's the big idea?" the creative workshops, artwork and speakers will entice teens not only to grasp a greater sense of themselves and their communities, but ultimately of their world.

"We hope to inspire the participants to become an inspiration to others," said Dana Hogan, a senior at City Honors School and chairwoman of festival.

The event will motivate teens to consider their talents in a "big picture" perspective. The array of activities planned for the event aims to encourage students to be impassioned to accomplish their goals.

The Passion in Progress Festival's ultimate mission is expressed through three target levels "to inspire high school students and enable them to open their minds to big-picture thinking," Dana said.

First, at the personal level, students will participate in workshops led by notable professionals. Participants can engage in one of three workshops, including a discussion titled "Don't Underestimate Your Potential" by Dr. William Duax, a scientist at the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute; another featuring Sanjay Connare, founder and CEO of Connare Tech, on "Failure -- a Catalyst for Success"; and a workshop with Laura Flumerfeldt, who will help students channel their talents into concrete goals through a subconscious yet hands-on activity called "Create a Vision Board."

The event also will focus on educating students on the local level. City Honors will host a temporary gallery called "25 Blocks," exhibiting both professional and student artwork ranging from photography to poetry. The intent of the gallery is to showcase unique perceptions and the significance of single blocks scattered throughout the diverse city of Buffalo.

There will also be an address from the festival's keynote speaker, former Amnesty International Secretary General Irene Zubaida Khan, a visiting professor at the University at Buffalo Law School and human rights advocate. Her speech and the question-and-answer portion that will follow encompass the world level of the Passion in Progress Festival.

"Students will have a lot of fun at the festival, but more importantly, we want them to leave with a broadened perspective on their potential and an open mind toward big-picture thinking," Dana said.

The festival will be held from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. March 25 at City Honors School, 186 E. North St. Refreshments and live entertainment will also be provided. For more information or to sign up (until Friday), visit

Natalie Murphy is a senior at City Honors.

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