East Grand Rapids TEDx was nothing less than impressive


After spending countless hours of sitting in my room watching video after video of TED Talks on Youtube, surrounding myself in the comforting depths of recommended videos of different people sharing their thoughts, ideas, hopes, and dreams with crowded rooms of receptive audience members, hearing them chuckle along to the presenters jokes and awe in amazement as the presenters revealed the meat of their thesis, I had the pleasure of attending a TED Talk in real life.

This Saturday at the East Grand Rapids high school auditorium, a group of high school students from both East Grand Rapids and Forest Hills Central shared their own ideas and beliefs about their thoughts, hopes, and dreams of the future. This TED Talk was different than others you may watch videos of on Youtube because its presenters were made up solely of high school students, and nobody about the age of a high school senior. While this could leave the impact of less impressive than the typical TED Talk of experienced scholars, scientists, and writers, the impact that these high school students left was nothing less that extraordinary.

As I walked in and heard the first presenter, FHC senior Daniel Slaw, I cannot help but admit that it was slightly difficult for me to follow along but none the less, I was impressed. The only reason I couldn’t follow along was because his understanding of the topic of his presentation was much more advanced than anything I have studied. However, he still was able to relate to me and get his point across with ease. He stood on the stage like he owned it, speaking to the crowed like he was having a conversation with a single person and relating to the entire audience all at once.

A few more students from East Grand Rapids presented next, talking about the future and how kindness relates to it, and how we must travel into our futures with courage and kindness. They stood up on the stage, and while a bit shaky at times and having to glance down at their notecards to keep themselves on track, they kept the audience engaged and did not let the sight bumps in the road interrupt the main idea of their presentations.

After a short intermission filled with free cookies, lemonade, and water, three more presentations took the stage. Izzy, a girl from EGR talked about perspective and how easy it is from one to believe that they must follow society’s standards. Next came Ben, another student at EGR. He shared how important English and literature is, how impacting novels of previous generations have been, and how important new novels of upcoming generations will be. Both were insightful and unique, bringing new layers to the night.

Grace Kraimer and Maddie Cole walked onto the stage in coordinating maroon dresses and from the moment they began, the audience was completely engaged. They performed a piece of slam poetry they wrote themselves. From the moment it began, it traveled fluently, moving from present time into the future and back again. Touching on personal topics and topics many people in the audience could relate to. Their presentation was phenomenal, sentences spoken together, sentences spoken apart, words bouncing back and forth making points and drawing emotions from deep within.

After years of watching TED Talks online, it was eye opening to see one in person. There wasn’t a single moment where I was bored and even though the event was filled with high school students, I was all in from beginning to end.