Behind the Scenes of TedxSaintFrancisHS

by Semira Arora (’25) | March 21, 2022

Photography by Gabriella Dominguez (’23)

TEDxSaintFrancisHS 2022 showcased thirteen talented speakers from our very own campus to share their stories with the world, but creating the perfect event was not easy.

The team’s commitment began in the 2020-21 school year when they assembled the board, which was divided into multiple sections: executive co-directors, mini-directors, and speaker, publicity, tech, and hospitality sections, with a chief of staff to oversee operations. In September 2021, speaker applications were released, and by mid-October, the board had chosen the final thirteen speakers. 

Co-director Katelyn Mihalko (’22) described her role as “mak[ing] the entire event happen and oversee[ing] the event.” With the other co-directors, Mihalko had to “plan everything and figure it out as months [went] by to put together the final show.” 

Philip Goo (’22), one of the three speaker directors, helped the three speakers in his group “brainstorm their ideas and write out their content” and also assisted them with vocal delivery.

Eliana Shin (’22) managed the tech crew, team’s website, and visuals that accompanied each talk. Ava Goumas (’22), the chief of staff, managed speaker deadlines and communicated with the team. 

Additionally, TEDxSaintFrancisHS moderator Mrs. Lesley Shortal (’98) described her experience as “really easy because it is so student-directed. It’s frankly just a joy working with students who can run things and make decisions on their own.”

However, the preparation process was not without its challenges. Speaker Olivia Vinckier (’24) found it difficult to be “comfortable speaking eloquently,” but overcame the challenge when Kristin Link, a professional speech specialist, assisted the speakers. 

Vinckier was not alone. Ritika Arora (’24) had trouble “getting over her nerves,” and Amulya Aditham (’22) was concerned about being vulnerable in front of such a large audience.

However, Aditham and the other speakers surmounted their fears through hard work and practice. “If my talk could help at least one person, that’s all that matters,” said Aditham, who spoke about her journey with mental health. 

Time commitment increased for all involved as the event approached. Louis Chavey (’22) described the commitment as “initially low,” with few meetings and mostly independent work, but as the event drew near, “things started picking up a lot. We had meetings two to three days a week that lasted anywhere between three and six hours.” 

Alexander Chang (’23) added that it became difficult to “find time to write [his] speech, memorize it, and run through it with the board members,” but ultimately, the speakers thrived. 

Besides the actual event, TEDxSaintFrancisHS fostered a supportive community for all involved. Co-director Andrew Adkison (’23) recalled one of the team bonding events where board and speakers participated in “an event that was a mix of Christmas and Thanksgiving,” which featured a white elephant gift exchange. 

Even on the day of the event, Haley Flahavan (’22) recalled speakers and board members “dancing, rapping, and cheering each other on.” 

“That’s what makes TEDxSaintFrancisHS so special. It’s not a fancy presentation but rather a way for students to give audience members new perspectives and insights into the world,” said Goo (’22).

Categories: Features

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