TEDx Talks to Connect School Community on Global Stage

Student-run organization to begin its Jones chapter

Aiming to connect members of the Jones area community to a worldwide stage, student organizers Abby Barton ‘18 and Olivia Landgraff ‘18 have started a Jones chapter of the TEDx organization, which will host a variety of student speakers on April 18.

TEDx is a branch of the TED Organization that hosts talks from interesting speakers in front of live audiences and connects them to a global stage– but this time at the local level.

“[It] allows for independent community organizers to have their own events outside of the crazy expensive exclusiveness that is TED,” said Barton. “We got a license from TED to have an event, and we’re connected to TED only in that we are able to share all of our videos [with them online]. TED themselves are not actually helping us, we’re on our own, which is fun, but also scary.”

Jones will be the second CPS high school to put on a TEDx event, with the first being Carver Military Academy.

“It might serve as a catalyst for other schools around the city to get involved,” said teacher sponsor and mentor Caitlin Miller. “I think that it’s a cool platform for [the] kids who want to stand out from the crowd, [the] kids who are interested in participating in the whole movement.”

After an extensive application process, Barton, Landgraff, and the three English teachers that will serve as mentors (Miller, Julie Achettu and Ebikepreye Ogundipe) selected six students to speak at the event: Maya Dru ‘17, Carly Klein ‘17, Zaid Abdullah ‘18, Michael Murray ‘18, Ellie Sharp ‘18, and Laura Davalos ‘19.

“[Applicants] had to record a video talking about why they wanted to be a TEDx speaker, fill out an application, and then write a paragraph about an idea that they wanted to do a speech on. We accepted two people [Dru and Abdullah] immediately based on their videos because they were such strong speakers already,” said Landgraff. “We interviewed six people and ended up accepting four of them. We asked them for interviews because they either had really strong ideas or were very passionate about doing a TEDx Talk.”

After being accepted, the speakers and their assigned mentor made outlines will work on and outline their first drafts, then meet with other speakers to bounce ideas off of each other to assist with second drafts, which will lead to practicing the presentation in time for the event.

“We want it to be a community experience,” said Landgraff.

Sharp, one of the students selected to speak at the event, is using her time to talk about Yoko Ono and how she symbolizes the barriers placed against women. While nervous to speak at the event, she is confident its organization and is excited to be a part of the process.

“I’m definitely nervous to speak, but I know that all the involved teachers and organizers are [to] make sure the event runs smoothly and that we all feel comfortable,” said Sharp. “I’m mostly excited about being able to learn about the [other] speakers’ topics and being able to share ideas.”

According to Barton, TEDx rules limit audience members to only 100 members. Despite this being a large number, the organizers and mentors are confident in the abilities of their lecturers.

“[They] have to be really comfortable with speaking in front of a crowd and being videotaped,” said Miller. “Not everyone is like that, some people are uncomfortable with that, and it’s really going to take special people to have the courage to do something like that.”

The event will be held in the Robin Bennett Auditorium on April 18, with tickets being given out on a raffle system. If all goes well, the process can be started again next year.

“It’s all about sharing ideas and communicating independent thoughts — it’s going to be exciting,” said Barton.