‘TEDx’ Program Returning to SPHS

“TED Talks’’ feature influential and expert speakers on all manner of topics, usually global in nature and, in recent years, ranging well beyond their original scope of Technology, Entertainment and Design.

And then there are “TEDx’’ programs — locally organized events licensed under the TED umbrella.

Like the one coming to South Pas High School on Jan. 11.

“TEDxSouthPasadenaHigh,’’ which is open to the public, will feature local voices and TED Talk videos on the theme of “Wish It. Dream It. Do It.” It’s the fifth time SPHS has hosted a TEDx event, dating back to 2015.

“We started with a district workshop focused on helping teachers create more authentic and engaging projects for students,” said Diane Shires, an SPHS English Language Arts and AP Language teacher and the event’s organizer.

“Several teachers jumped at the idea of our first TEDx event in 2015. We were so inspired. Over the years, as we’ve learned how to improve upon a good idea, we’ve provided more and more leadership roles to students. All the speakers this year are students, and the entire production team is student-led.”

The eight SPHS students who were chosen to be speakers at this year’s event are Ian Wang, Simon Pierce, Amber Chen, Emily Newhall, Jessica Lat, Mia Jung, Liam Markus and Sam Clark.

“The student leadership team was careful to select speakers whose themes were important to our South Pasadena community, particularly our youth,” Shire said.

“The talks focus on ideas that are worth sharing, often not discussed, within our community. Ideas that are important to our student speakers, and, we feel, are important for friends and family to hear. We’ve been working with the students over the summer and through the fall, with mentorship from teachers like Rama Kadri and Denise Gill, and a small student staff that has provided feedback as well.”

The student TEDx team is led by Ava Page, Teja Moe, Sophia Davidson and Rena Pau, who have all been working on the event for over a year. Each TEDx talk will focus on the theme of transforming wishes and dreams into action.

This year’s topics include beauty standards, communication, medicine, how to play jazz piano, community and success, how kindness is a superpower, mentorship through struggle and challenges for LGBTQ youth.

“Our student staff has been working hard to put together an event both relevant and thought-provoking on issues of goals and redefining the idea of success,” Shire said. “Our entire student leadership team is female this year, so we were thinking of a TEDx women’s event in the next few years.”

The TEDxSouthPasadenaHigh event will take place on Saturday, Jan. 11 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at South Pasadena High School’s Little Theater. Tickets cost $5 per person. Contact dshires@spusd.net to reserve a ticket at will call at the door.

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Kamala Kirk is a contributing writer for the South Pasadena Review, San Marino Tribune and The Quarterly Magazine. Kamala formerly served as Managing Editor of Beauty Launchpad Magazine, West Coast Editor of American Salon Magazine, and Digital Editor for E! Online. A native of Hermosa Beach, California, she is a proud USC Trojan and pug mom to Wrigley the Pug (@pugofpasadena).