16 Honors English 10 students will perform their Ted Talks at first-ever “FHC Inspires” night


Last week, Ken George’s Honors English 10 classes presented Ted Talks on anything they were passionate about. What started as a way to improve public speaking skills quickly blossomed into an outlet for students to share their passions, and later, a whole night dedicated to the community viewing these Ted Talks.

George can’t place his finger on why or how he had this idea, he just knew it was something that could and should be done. He sent out applications for anyone interested and chose 16 students to present their Ted Talks on May 24 in the auditorium.

“I don’t know why I came up with the idea; I’ve never done anything like it before,” George said. “Last year I did ted talks– it was my first year– [and] I just thought it was amazing. Somewhere in my brain this year, before we did Ted Talks, I was like, ‘Wow it would be cool if the whole school saw it.’”

So, his vision turned into a reality. Students of multiple grades came together to organize, direct, plan, and even draw posters for the program and publicization. Anyone in the community is welcome to watch the Ted Talks for free to feel inspired.

George saw last week with the Ted Talks that teenagers have a voice that can’t be silenced. He was in awe of what he saw every day, and he and his classes agreed that it was a week that didn’t feel like school.

“Ted Talks were born from [practicing public speaking skills], but what they’ve turned into is so much more than that,” George said. “It’s become much more of an outlet for teenagers to talk about what they care about. I would say it was a week of school that felt not at all like school. It wasn’t coming to a class; it was coming to an event all last week in the lecture hall. The kids laughed at me a lot because they said sometimes they looked at the speaker and then they looked over at me to see how I was reacting, and they said I was just like a proud dad. I was just sitting there proud.”

With what he’s already seen, George knows the upcoming event will be a big hit for friends, family members, students, and the community.

“I feel like it could be one of the coolest and most inspiring nights,” George said. “With the regular Ted Talks, students go up there and pour their hearts out about something they believe in and something they are passionate about. Sometimes I watch the speakers, sometimes I turn and watch the audience… it’s amazing. Teenagers have a lot to say, and I don’t think they get a voice very often, so when my kids were given this voice… oh my gosh, what they poured out was incredible. I would look at the audience, and they were so enthralled. I think we could start to change the world a little bit [by] a couple of people.”

The 16 Ted Talks vary in topic, and George is working hard to ensure that they all flow nicely to avoid heavier topics going back-to-back. He also thinks that with the fast pace and variety, there is bound to be a Ted Talk that speaks to every person sitting in the auditorium.

Sophomore Akansha Das hopes that her Ted Talk influences the way people view different situations with a more positive mindset.

“[My Ted Talk is] about the power of positivity and its effects on your body,” Akansha said. “I start off by talking about how negative our world is, so I just hope that people take away that positivity and how you view a situation really influences how you act in that situation.”

Although Akansha prepared greatly for her Ted Talk last week, she has not yet started to prepare for the event in a few weeks. Nerves aren’t a problem for her, though, because she has public speaking experience from debate and forensics. The thought of sharing her Ted Talk with an audience of strangers is a bit scary to her, but she knows it will go well.

“I’m really excited to see what it’s going to be like,” Akansha said. “I’m a little nervous; I do debate and forensics so I’m not as nervous as I think I would be if I hadn’t done that. [It’s] still a little nerve-wracking since it’s the auditorium and a lot of people I don’t know, whereas in the lecture hall it was pretty much people I knew.”

Sophomore Meredith VanSkiver feels the same way about her Ted Talk, which is about saying “I love you” more to the people you care about. But, her nerves accompany excitement for being chosen for this event and for everyone hearing her interesting topic.

“I think it was nice [to get picked] because we spent so much time on this, and it was a fun reward, like the cherry on top, to get picked,” Meredith said. “It was fun to make my family proud because they were all rooting for me to do it when I told them about it. I’m excited for the audience to hear what my topic is, but I’m nervous because it’s going to be a lot bigger crowd than what we practiced with.”

Meredith hopes her Ted Talk inspires the audience to tell the people they care about that they love them more often in their everyday lives. She hopes that the audience won’t be afraid to speak from the heart to people they care for.

“I hope it kind of makes the audience sit and reevaluate their lives,” Meredith said. “And [I hope they] pay attention to the people that mean something to them.”

Sophomore Jasmine Dawson’s Ted Talk deals with the heart as well but in a more literal way. She talks about taking care of the heart and keeping it healthy in order to better understand music and poetry.

Jasmine didn’t expect to get chosen, she even had to get a little push from George, but when she did she was ecstatic.

“It makes me really happy,” Jasmine said. “I know that a lot of people applied, and I didn’t think I was going to get in because I saw so many Ted Talks, and all of those people were really good. I asked Mr. George if I should, and he said that I should at least try to get in. I did, and now I’m really excited. But I’m kind of nervous still because, you know, it’s giving a Ted Talk in front of a bunch of people.”

Jasmine dug deep into poetry this year, and that inspired her to base her Ted Talk around maintaining a healthy heart in order to enjoy the poetry.

“It kind of just came to me because this year, I was reading a lot of poetry from this class and on my own,” Jasmine said. “Some of it [was] sad, some of it happy. I [thought] maybe I should make my Ted Talk on that. I hope [the audience] understands that you need to be healthy before you can be happy in a bunch of different ways.”

George has seen phenomenal growth from the start of the school year to now by doing the Ted Talks. The goal of improving public speaking skills has been met, and more importantly, kids have been inspired.

“A lot of [my students] had severe public speaking anxiety,” George said. “There were a lot of tears in our practice week; we had a whole week of practice, and many of them [were] just crying about it. So many of them [went from] literally not being able to give a one-minute book talk to giving a five-minute Ted Talk– that was phenomenal. I don’t know what could be cooler than that.”

The community can expect to see the inspirational Ted Talks and the hard work put in by all the students at the “FHC Inspires” night on May 24 from 7-8:30 in the auditorium.

“I think it’s going to be special for the kids that present,” George said. “It’s [also] going to be special for those families, you know the parents to come and watch those kids present. I think it will be a really special night for the friends that present. I just feel like we can make positive changes in people’s lives.”