TEDx speakers share “ideas worth spreading”


Michelle Wei

Gabriela Seguinot '20

Michelle Wei, Editor-in-Chief

Marking the third annual TEDx The Masters School (x = independently organized TED event), ten students presented their own TEDx talks in the Experimental Theater on May 18. From the normalization of self harm to media being a new instigator of war, there were a variety of topics presented.

For the third year in the row, Upper School History Teachers Lisa Berrol and Brendon Barrios have advised the student speakers. Berrol first headed the takeoff of the TEDx program at Masters three years ago after Head of School Laura Danforth approached her with the idea. Each year, Berrol re-applies for a license to the greater TED organization for officiating Masters’ talks. Before the process of writing and practicing their own TEDx talks, students have to audition, beginning in December.

Berrol noted that this year’s group of students was especially supportive and willing to share their insights with each other. The group consists of students Juliette Chollet, Audrey Corrigan, Sophia Forstmann, Clyde Lederman, Julia Levin, Carr Li, Yevheniia Nykonorova, Gabriella Seguinot, Maeve Smith and Sophia Viscarello.

The student speakers refine their speeches once a week, on Thursday night from 7 to 9 p.m. This meeting time counts for co-curricular credit.

Between the time their applications are approved by the program and the end of spring break, the speakers research and write their ten-minute speeches. To gather information, students  frequently look outwards for mentors. Often times these mentors are people within the Masters community. For sophomore Sophia Viscarello, her mentor has been CityTerm co-founder David Dunbar. According to Viscarello, Dunbar provided professional insight relevant to her TEDx topic of perfectionism in education.

Viscarello said, “He is a leading figure in alternative education. He’s an expert in his field and he’s helped me so much with my own research.”

Berrol also cited Upper School Music Instructor Curt Ebersole and Upper School English Teacher Miguel Segovia as people who have facilitated the TEDx process. Ebersole, who teaches the public speaking class, boosted the performance and memorization aspect of the speeches, according to Berrol. Additionally, according to the only freshman in the program this year, Clyde Lederman, “Dr. Segovia has brought my talk into something compelling and I’m grateful for the countless hours he’s contributed.”

Aside from adult mentors like Donnell, Ebersole and Segovia, there were also peer mentors. These peer mentors were alumnae of the TEDx program who have given their own talks in years prior. The alumnae, such as Elijah Emery, Annie Rubinson, and Jonas Kolker, sat in on practices and made recommendations. Specifically for senior Rachel Aideyan, who gave a TEDx talk last year, she has attended almost every practice session. Her guidance has counted for her own co-curricular credit, and Aideyan said, “I really tried to make sure to be as available as possible and encouraged them because it’s a really tough job. I’m there for peer support.”

Berrol said that the addition of mentors made the students’ speeches more well-informed and well-rounded, so the audience gained more insight.