Second annual TEDx conference to be held in MAC

Various student and adult speakers prepare to discuss topics relating to this year’s theme: “Spread the Word”


Photos Courtesy of TedxPaloAltoHighSchool

Speakers from last year’s conference, including junior Sylvia Targ (left) and volunteer football coach Steve Bono (right), captivated audiences with their speeches at the conference organized by TedXPaloAltoHighSchool.

Palo Alto High School will host its second-annual Technology, Entertainment and Design (TEDx) conference on Feb. 9, an event that will feature a variety of adult and student speakers covering a range of topics. Speeches will be held throughout the day in the Media Arts Center.

TEDx is an offshoot of the Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) conferences that have been conducted worldwide since 1984. TED’s mission is to facilitate the spread of new ideas through conferences and weekly talks. TED talks are posted on YouTube weekly for public viewing. TEDx events are independent conferences designed to explore various topics at the community level. 

The event will showcase 11 speakers who will be giving speeches centered around this year’s theme, “Spread the Word.” Paly student speakers include Karina Chan, Garrett Lee, Adi Beth, Anna Lu and Rolina Wu.  Adult speakers include Thomas Tayeri, Angela Zusman, Samantha Edgington, Alicia Lin, Esther Wojcicki and John Evans. A committee from the TEDx club selected students speakers based on interviews and auditions.

Paly’s TEDx club has been preparing for the event since August, according to club president Fabian Garduño. Club members separated into smaller committees to focus on each aspect of the event, including contacting, advertising and videotaping speakers.

This year’s conference will differ slightly from that of last year. It will feature a new theme and will be slightly shorter in duration.

Teachers can sign up to have their classes listen to speakers during periods 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6. Students may also attend the talks during their prep period. There will be no speakers during lunch.

Junior Anna Lu will use her talk to discuss society’s negative association with introverts. She hopes to show that  introversion is not something to be ashamed of, but rather a special trait.

“I really wanted to talk about introversion because there are many societal misconceptions surrounding the issue,” Lu said.

Lu hopes to reduce the stigma around introversion, one she encountered even before preparing her speech.

“When I told one of my friends that I was auditioning to give a TED[x] talk on introversion, he responded, ‘But you’re not an introvert,” Lu said. “Well, I am, but I think too many people just don’t know what defines introversion and extroversion.”

Junior Karina Chan will speak on the topic of peer judgement and how judgemental attitudes can eventually hurt students’ mental health and friendships.

“I wanted to be a TEDx speaker because while Speech and Debate was fun and competitive, I felt like I didn’t have the opportunity to have my voice heard,” Chan said. “Being able to talk in front of so many people is an opportunity for me to really reach people and make a difference, and that’s something I’d never want to give up.”

Chan feels her talk will be crucial in helping students understand the effects of their judgements, especially in the wake of recent tragedies.

“I hope that the audience will learn to be more open about how they feel with others so that our community can become more supportive and appreciative of the people around us,” Chan said. “That being said, I’m no Confucius; my speech is just what I’ve gathered to be true and relevant about the environment I grew up in.”

Garduño also hopes that by listening to the talks, audience members will leave feeling empowered by the talks.

“We hope that the Paly students can learn something or get inspired by great speakers and just take a break from class and have a different type of learning,”  Garduño said.