Ramtin Habibi, a Grade 11 student at Sinclair Secondary School in Whitby, has been watching TED talks online for years and is a huge fan. “One day I just woke up and thought, Why don’t we do something like that here – why not have Sinclair start it?” says Habibi. After doing some research online, he discovered that TEDx talks are TED talks that are independently organized and can be held at schools. He asked friends Brittany Paty and Liam Montgomery if they wanted to help organize a TEDx talk. They were surprised but both agreed to help. “I said, ‘Include me – that sounds really awesome,’” says Paty.
One of the biggest challenges in organizing a TEDx talk at a high school is educating the students about TEDx talks. “A lot of people don’t know what TED is but when they see it, they think it’s cool,” says Habibi. “We had to get the interest, then get the word out there,” says Paty.
The theme for the TEDx talk was Off the Beaten Path, an idea proposed by Paty. “I’m always inspired by people who don’t follow a typical path to their career or to their success,” says Paty. “I wanted to see people who are successful now, but where were they when they were in high school?”
The intent of the TEDxSinclairDDSB was to explore various, and sometimes unconventional, forms of education. The event included TEDTalks videos, live performances by Emma Kidd and Cherie & Exene Dance, and live speakers such as Pam Stoneham, an associate dean at Durham College, Alissa Sallans, a student from Whitby who won one of just five scholarships in Canada to visit Antarctica, and Pat Foran, the consumer affairs reporter for CTV.
The TEDx team even went so far as to create a 3D TEDx sign that sat on the stage during the event on April 17. “We wanted to ensure that the attendees had a TED-like experience,” says Habibi.
The TEDxSinclairDDSB was a great success. Habibi and Paty would like to see the TEDx talks continue. They want to get younger students involved in the planning of the next TEDx talk to ensure that succession planning is in place for the future.