By Meredith Pruden
With job positions including professional speaker, council representative and news anchor filling his resume, one Woodland Charter Elementary school fifth grader already has a career history with which even the most fickle of corporate headhunters couldn’t find fault.
However, on this frigid January day, mild-mannered Allen Devlin sits quietly amongst his peers as social studies teacher Bill Ray Hinson discusses the U.S. government’s treatment of Native American tribes during the country’s formative years.
Sitting there studying his text, Devlin is in many ways like any other boy his age. But it wasn’t very long ago that he was standing at the front of the Sandy Springs City Council chambers behind a podium rivaling himself in its size. It was there, to a crowd of more than 100, Devlin delivered a self-written speech on the topic of what Martin Luther King, Jr. meant to him that was at times humorous, at times unabashedly touching but altogether at least as well delivered as the day’s adult speakers.
And with good reason. Devlin made it all the way to the Optimist Oratorical Contest’s Area division last year where he eventually placed second to the 15-year-old winner after a series of tiebreakers were applied by judges. The Area division is the last stop before the Contest’s state competition, which Devlin said he hopes to win this year.
“I intend to participate in the oratorical contest until I win at the state level,” Devlin said. “I really want to get the whole thing.”
In an effort to go all the way Devlin not only practices his speech in front of his pet parrot Ivan, he also attends weekly practice sessions with an Optimist Club toastmaster, but the oratorical contest isn’t his only activity. Devlin also was elected this school year’s student council president and takes his position very seriously.
“We discuss things about the school,” Devlin said. “What we can make better and how we can raise money.”
The fifth-grader is not short on creative ways to raise student morale and money for the school. So far he and his fellow council members have helped to institute several programs with which their fellow classmates are quite pleased.
Devlin is perhaps most proud of his idea to let students choose their own spirit day through the use of an anonymous suggestion box located in the school’s lobby. Running a close second is the upcoming dance competition with a cash first prize.
Devlin is not only focused on fun events for Woodland’s student population. He also advocates for programs dedicated to raise funds for improvements and necessities for the school and for charitable causes including a holiday canned food drive.
Even with all of these activities Devlin still manages to find time to be an anchor on one of the schools news teams, to play basketball at a local church, and to play saxophone in both the school’s band and its jazz ensemble.
He also has big plans for the future, of which his family shows their customary enthusiastic support. Post high school – where he will play basketball rather than football because he ‘can’t tackle anyone’ – Devlin dreams of following in his father’s footsteps and becoming a lawyer.
Just wait Sandy Springs, this silver-tongued dynamo is on the fast track to the Georgia State Bar Association and has his community’s best interests at heart.