TEDx The Masters School returns after COVID hiatus


Michelle Wei

SOPHIA FORSTMANN ‘20 GIVING her Ted Talk, “Before the Grocery Store: Understanding the Value of Food.” Throughout her time at Masters, Forstmann involved herself in various sustainability initiatives and served as vice chair of EFFECT. Her Ted Talk aimed to raise community consciousness of unethical food sourcing.

Matthias Jaylen Sandoval, Opinion Editor

After a three-year hiatus thanks to COVID-19, TEDx The Masters School is returning. In 2017, Upper School History teacher Lisa Berrol was approached by Head of Upper School, Laura Danforth, with the vision of bringing the TEDx program to Masters. That vision became a reality when the first TEDx talk was given in the Experimental Theatre. The program was a massive success, but things got difficult when the pandemic hit in 2020. TEDx was attempted over Zoom, but according to Berrol, it was impossible to do. Fortunately, the program is making a comeback. 

“I’m thrilled,” Berrol said. “I think TEDx gives students such an immense opportunity; those students who dive in can really investigate an idea that they’ve had, for a long time like a suspicion, philosophy, or a way of going through the world that they’re eager to share with more than just our community. I am very excited about the potential, and it’s always a thrill to work with students on their research.” 

Stacy Van Beek, co-advisor to TEDx, shared Berrol’s excitement. “I’m looking forward to just learning what the students are interested in. I’m also looking forward to helping the students practice and rehearse the physicality and the vocal stuff. I have a background in theater. As a teacher, I’ve never really been able to use it, so this is theater-adjacent and that will be fun,” Van Beek said.

In spite of this, the process of giving a TEDx talk can be very challenging. Berrol said, “I think it’s very difficult because students start with an idea that’s just a paragraph long, and it builds to a five to eight minute talk that has to be memorized and researched. The research has to be thorough, it has to be corroborated, and it has to be really well crafted. Mr. Ebersole has been instrumental in helping our students to go off script because it’s very difficult. There are also some students who can write really well but have a hard time being onstage or when the camera is rolling.”

Though the process is rigorous and challenging, it’s tremendously rewarding; as Berrol said,“I think that there’s nothing that a student will do at Masters that will compare to this.”

Junior Elijah Brooks is ecstatic about applying for the TEDx program, though he’s still not sure about his topic. He said, “I’m not exactly sure what topic I want to do yet, but I do want to share something that means a lot to me; I want a crazy attention grabber that gets the whole crowd shocked.” Brooks also noted that he wants to take advantage of the opportunity to help his public speaking skills.

The TEDx application and audition process is open to all Upper School students as a winter co-curricular. Though the application is open to anyone, however, there are only a limited number of spots available and the process may be competitive.