High School TEDx to “Burst Bubbles”

Feb. 27 Event Features Student Voices

Marie Lachance, front, surrounded by, from left, 2017 organizer Auden Elliott; 2016 presenter Anna Laffrey; and other 2017 organizers Kate Campbell, Margaret Sheridan and Hanna Sanford

Just about a year ago, Marie Lachance could sum up her state of mind as “nervous but hopeful,” though her friend Anna Laffrey would also add “stressed.” This year, with the second annual TEDxEastGrandRapidsHigh just around the corner, Lachance says she’s “so much more confident.”

“Last year was definitely a success,” she said, “but this year there’s just this feeling of legitimacy, like, this feels like an actual TED event.”

What: TEDxEastGrandRapidsHigh

When: 6 p.m. on Feb. 27

Where: East Grand Rapids High School

Details: The independently organized event, licensed by TED, will feature local student voices and TED Talks videos under the theme “Bursting Bubbles”

Cost: $10 per person, goes to cover expenses and help fund next year’s event

Tickets can be purchased at the high school during both lunch hours (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) from Feb. 24-26, as well as at the door before the event.

The EGR senior has good reason to feel confident. The inaugural event drew its maximum of 100 attendees, and this year she has financial sponsorship from The EGR Academic Boosters, the EGRPS Foundation, Snapdragon Boutique and Insignia Homes.

Now, she says, she just hopes the community turns out to hear what its young minds are up to. This year’s event space can hold a maximum 250 people, and Marie is hoping to sell out.

“Last year we had a lot of family and friends of the speakers, which was great,” she said. “But in order for the TED mission to really work, it has to be a community-wide discussion. And in order for that to happen, the community has to be here.”

Speakers this year are:

  • Chris Bruinsma: “Bursting the Text Bubble”
  • Danielle Falling (Forest Hills Northern High): “The Personal Bubble”
  • Dana Christian Lee: “You Me Us”
  • Colin Hendrickson: (Spring Lake High): “Young Entrepreneurship”
  • Dani Mitchell: “The Me I Wanna Be”
  • Anna Laffrey: “How to Hack your Technophobia”
  • Shannon Ors: “Why We Seek Out Bubbles”
  • Avery Ferin and Kathryn Martin (Forest Hills Central High): “On Shame”

A Bit of Background

Launched in 2009, TEDx is a program of locally organized events that bring the community together to share a TED-like experience. Some of the best talks from TEDx events have gone on to be featured on TED.com and garnered millions of views from audiences across the globe.

At TEDxEastGrandRapidsHigh, students from several different schools and other community members will share how they have broadened their horizons and perspectives through a wide range of inspiring “ideas worth spreading,” goes the concept.

“I really wanted to give passionate students at my school a platform for their ideas to be heard and met with respect from the community,” Marie said. “My goal is to empower the amazing student voices our school has to offer and open our community’s eyes to the hard work youth is capable of doing if they are truly passionate.”

2016 presenter Chris Bruinsma, EGR High
2016 presenter Chris Bruinsma, EGR High

A Multi-District Event

EGR senior Anna Laffrey is one presenter who hopes to inspire her peers and others with her talk, “How to Hack Your Technophobia.”

While those her age are overwhelmingly comfortable with using computers for schoolwork and for social media, Anna said there also are a large number who find the more advanced software and coding overwhelming.

“It’s really about how your capacity to succeed with computer usage is determined by your own sense of self-efficacy,” she said. “It’s really pretty simple if you just have the confidence to take a stab at it.”

Forest Hills Central seniors Avery Ferin and Kathryn Martin’s talk is titled “On Shame.” Actually, it’s a poem the pair co-wrote about girls and school and all the ways they experience shame, Avery explained.

“We both remember so vividly when (a dress code) became an issue, so there’s body image and how we dress, but there’s also shame for being too emotional, wearing makeup, having more than one boyfriend in a school year, all of that.”

Avery likes it that TEDxEastGrandRapidsHigh includes student presenters from other districts.

“I don’t really know a lot of kids who aren’t Forest Hills kids, just because growing up we’re limited on how far away from home we can go, but also, everything we’re involved in with school and sports, there’s not much chance to mix.”

While Avery finds the thought of interacting with students from outside Forest Hills “kind of scary because I’m nervous meeting new people, it is in the spirit of TED because it’s about sharing ideas and expressing different backgrounds and opinions. It will be interesting to come together and see what happens.”

Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio

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