by ELIZABETH ENDERLE - Lead organizer Sydney Green describes what it took to bring TEDx to WHS.
WESTFIELD, Ind. (Feb. 9, 2019) - TED Talks have become a unique part of the American schooling experience. Whether discussing mental health, new scientific advancements or the ever-changing way we interact with our cell phones, TED Talks provide all demographics with a chance to learn more about the world around us than we could ever dream of learning. But how did such an opportunity come about in Westfield? To find out, I interviewed the event’s lead organizer, Sydney Green (12).
Q: How did you come up with the idea of having a TED Talk at WHS?
A:“I thought that having a TED Talk or going to a TED Talk would be cool, so I looked it up...I saw that you could host a TED event, so then we looked more into it, and we decided it was a thing we wanted to pursue, and we went from there.”
Q: Once you had this idea, what steps did you have to take?
A: “I’m obviously under 18, so I had to have a co-organizer, which was [Mr.] Bruns, and then we had to establish a name, which was subject to change according to TED, and we had to fill out an entire license application that took around six weeks to get approved.”
Q: What was the hardest part of the preparation process?
A: “We had to come up with a theme...that wasn’t too specific but wasn’t too broad, that everybody could talk under because they [TED] have a big emphasis that there’s no bias in what you’re talking about, so we can’t be exclusive to certain types of things, so that’s how we came up with ‘Within Reach.’”
Q: After you finished the application process and shared your idea, what kind of support did you receive from the community?
A: “I think we had 35 total [volunteers,] including adult volunteers as well. Our executive staff was me, Bruns, Charlie Degnan (12), Lilli Clarke (11), Eilish Kelly (12), and Sabrina Richard (9). And then, all the rest of our volunteers either came from the school or had connection to the school in some way.”
Q: How were speakers chosen for the event?
A: “For student speakers we had an application for them and they basically had to tell who they were, what they wanted to talk about, and why they thought they should be a TED speaker. They had to develop essentially their entire talk and present it to us and then we picked from there. And then for adults we invited them… Adult-wise, it was just a little bit of everybody, but students, it was like an application process.”
Q: There was a bit of a surprise at the end of the event, concerning Chair of the Board of Trustees for Indiana State University Edward Pease. Could you describe what happened?
A: “Ed Pease, great man, we contacted him about speaking in the first place, and he was very interested in doing it but couldn't come up with an idea, and then he had some medical issues come up….Logistic wise, he couldn’t be there, but he was really passionate about what we were doing and wanted to be involved even if he couldn’t attend or speak, so he decided to write us a check for $1000 to make sure that the TEDx program is able to thrive next year and continue on and not have as many struggles as I had with the event in the coming years.”
Q: Since you are a senior, have you made plans for the future of TEDx at WHS?
A: “I’m working on the succession binder, and...I have a couple in mind that will take it over next year....In the future, I hope that they will be able to grow it to be even better than it was, making sure that we’re filling the seats, we’re spreading new ideas,...and we’re making sure that we hold true to the Westfield Way.”
Q: How do you think the event turned out?
A: “I was happy with it. There were quite a few surprises, quite a few hiccups, but for our first time doing it,...on our tight time frame, I think we put out the best thing that we could have, and I was happy with the result. I’m happy that that’s my TEDx legacy.”