TEDx chooses its speakers, prepares for spring show


Credit: Courtesy of Aydan McGah

The core members gather at junior Aydan McGah’s house to discuss their plans for this years show while eating bagels. “This is a great place to share their ideas and to really get their voice out there. It’s unlike an opportunity given to most students our age,” junior Emmie O’Shaughnessy said.

The names of the TEDx speakers were released by the Wayland TEDxYouth@Wayland Core Team on their instagram account, @tedxyouthwayland, this past Sunday, Jan. 12. Bringing the event back for the first time since 2016, the Core Team(Aydan McGah, Fatma Sayeh, Charlotte Salitsky, Charlie Moore, David Lathan, Emmie O’Shaughnessy and Ben Chen) is working to prepare themselves and the speakers for the event on May 17.

“A lot of people have heard of TED talks, without the ‘X,’ and TED is a huge organization that puts on events everywhere around the world. The ‘X’ means it’s an independently organized event, so Fatma Sayeh, Aydan Mcgah, and I and our core team are the people that are organizing this event,” junior Charlotte Salitsky said. “It’s not TED coming in and asking us to host the event. We apply for a license so we can use their name, but it’s all Wayland student run.”

The Wayland TEDxYouth@Wayland has taken place before in 2015 and 2016 under the direction of Wayland parent, Ashley Welch. Salitsky, along with Sayeh and McGah, was involved in the 2016 event. Wanting to bring the event back to Wayland, they united with other students to form the Core Team.

“My mom started TEDx three or four years ago at the school, and Charlotte, Fatma and I were apart of it and helped out, so we wanted to bring it back,” McGah said. “Emmie has always been interested in it so we wanted to bring her into it. We also thought Charlie would be good because of his connection to WSPN, and we also chose David and Ben because we thought they would be into this type of thing, so we asked them and they were into it.”

What motivated the group to bring TEDx back to the Wayland stage wasn’t the event itself, but the importance of the messages it facilitated.

“This is a great place to share their ideas and to really get their voice out there. It’s unlike an opportunity given to most students our age,” junior Emmie O’Shaughnessy said. “So, we think that TEDx is great for both the speakers and the community.”

Members of the Core Team were influenced and impassioned by the messages of the past TEDx event in 2016, and hope that the audience of the 2020 TEDXx event will have a similar experience.

“For me personally, I have already learned so much about our student body, and hearing people’s stories with this infrastructure and this opportunity,” Salitsky said. “So, I think it’s really important to inspire our community and our school by sharing these stories and messages that are entirely worth spreading which is the whole point of TED.”

However, with so many inspiring stories and messages to share, picking speakers for the event was no easy task.

“We had twenty people audition which was amazing, and then we all just evaluate our personal interest in each matter. When we were picking our speakers we wanted to create the best possible event for our audience, so we were looking for the strongest messages that also had diversity, and it was really hard to pick because there were some talks that were super strong but they were too similar to other ones that outweighed them a little bit,” Salitsky said. “We also looked at how prepared the individual was, you can tell when someone is passionate about something, so we were really impressed by those people.”

To seek out speakers who met this criteria and would fulfill the purpose of TEDx, the Core Team used a multi-step auditioning process.

“So we wanted to get as many grades involved as we could, so we sent out google forms to the student body to see who was interested,” O’Shaughnessey said. “We [also] held 15-20 minute interviews to hear people’s ideas, and the theme of our event this year is Power Perspective, so we wanted to get a range of ideas that fit along that theme.”

While the Core Team has successfully chosen their group of speakers, their work is far from over.

“We have a lot of work to do until the spring, but right now we have our speakers and coaches that we will be matching up and we’ll have to get into sponsorships to raise money for the event, and then we have to get performers and lighting for the show,” McGah said.

However, the hard work put in by both the Core Team and TEDx speakers will not go unrewarded. The group is confident that the event will be an inspiring learning experience for all parties involved.

“For the speakers, we hope that they will learn to grow and voice their opinions, and get their ideas out there,” O’Shaughnessey said. “We hope that the audience will take away messages from the speakers and learn to drop their assumptions and open their minds to new ideas about your community and classmates.”

Speakers for 2020:
Jenna Martin, senior
Shawn Bernier, senior
Ryan Dowling, senior
Victoria Andreasen, junior
Daniel Bede, sophomore
Alyssa Chow, freshman