TEDx Youth at Jenks 2021: Where students exceed excellence

By: Audrey McGee

Jasmine Moss waited behind the heavy velvet cloth, being the only thing holding her from the audience below. She held her breath until her name was called; it was her time to shine. She walked out on the stage in what felt like the longest catwalk this world had ever seen. As the bright stage lights beat down on her, she took a deep breath and started. 

“All I could feel was panic. My head was buzzing and my ears were ringing and when I heard the claps I knew it was my turn. I turned on my mic (though apparently not all the way) and I stepped on the stage and then I just had a feeling of calmness.”

TEDx is an organization working to give powerful voices with important messages a platform to get their ideas out there. From high school students to professionals, TEDx is an organization for many with a special TEDx Youth program dedicated to the youth in communities. TEDx Youth was originally brought to Jenks High School by Sanjeev Musuvathy in 2019. Musuvathy worked with the rest of the Advanced Research course, the last course of three in the AP Capstone Program hosted by Michael Horn. Musuvathy reached out to the official TEDx site to host the event. Since the first event back in March 2019, the event has only been held one other time. The 2020 TEDx event hosted by Mia Bockelman was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. 

Moss signed up for TEDx in the early stages of the 2021 event. I asked Moss why she decided to join TEDx in the first place. Her passion for speech stemmed from her initial interests in COVID-19 sex-biased research through her AP Research class, the second in the AP Capstone Program. Although she was not as experienced in public speaking, she also wanted something to look back on for years to come. 

“In the end … it just seemed like a fun thing to do. And it was. And I’m happy that I did it”.

Moss was one of many fellow peers who presented in the 2021 TEDx event. On April 28th, 2021 the TEDx Youth @ Jenks returned once more in the Building 6 auditorium. The event is hosted by Anna Tharaken and Holly Hilst with production help from Evonn Annor, Rhea Katari, Savannah Baldwin, Rori Johnson, and Jolie Abdo. The event consisted of four separate blocks where students grade 10-12 from schools including Jenks High School, Union High School, and Booker T. Washington High School. present a wide array of speeches discussing topics like Dungeons & Dragons, sex bias in COVID-19 research, anxiety in the classroom, and global citizenship education. The following students presented TED X speeches: Adam Fletcher, Ariana Sayeed, Hannah Varickappalli, Hayley Ortwein, Hea Pushpraj, Jasmine Moss, Kayla Cao, Leslie Graff, Priya George, Chloe Gough, Emma Zemanek, Rachel Tiong, Rajdeep Kaur, and Tina Pham.

TEDx Youth @ Jenks was started last year by Sanjeev Musuvathy in accordance with Advanced Research. He was able to reach out to the official TEDx site to host the event. Since the first event back in March 2019, the event has only been held one other time. The 2020 TEDx hosted by Mia Bockelman was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. 

Although both head coordinators of the event this year are seniors, you can look forward to the 2022 TEDX Youth @ Jenks being hosted by Thomas Repke, Hailey Seo, and Kayla Cao along with the 2022 Advanced Research class. If you are a high school student interested in performing a speech next year, watch out for sign-ups starting in the fall semester of 2021. You do not have to be in Advanced Research to be a speaker at the TEDx Youth event. However, this course along with its two predecessor courses (AP Seminar and AP Research) work toward preparing students to conduct and present research. 

TEDx Youth @ Jenks is an official TEDx event and all of the above presentations will be posted on their official youtube channel along with the official website. For now, to see all of the phenomenal speeches, you can go to the official Jenks High School Facebook page (@jenkshs) to see the live stream of these performances.

Photo Credits: Emma Nelson – Jasmine Moss, junior,  presents her TEDx speech “Sex Bias in COVID-19 Research”

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