By ELISE MULLEN
MAINE -- Cape Elizabeth students are gearing up for the biennial TedxYouth event taking place in early December.
Cape Elizabeth students and faculty have been working hard since last year to put on a day full of insightful and motivational talks in hopes of enlightening students on many different topics.
The critically acclaimed Tedx talks have caught the attention of parents in the Cape Elizabeth community over the years. In 2011, Sara Lennon and Mary Townsend, parents of Cape Elizabeth students, attended a Tedx presentation and came back with plans to put on something similar for the youth here in Cape Elizabeth. Thus TedxYouth at CEHS was born.
This biennial event is far from simple with “at least a year and a half in advance dedicated to planning,” says club’s co-founder and school’s technology educator, Betsy Nilsen.
The key to keeping this event as exciting as possible is secrecy. With closed door meetings and secret emails, the club does everything possible to keep speakers and performers under the radar until right before the event.
“It builds up the anticipation, a week or so before we start to leak speakers by putting posters up around school,” says Nilsen. “You never know who will be listening, so you can’t talk about it in the hallway.”
Another surprising factor is the cost of the event. This year, the club will spend between $11,000 and $15,000 to put the event on. That money will go towards the professionals hired to work on production elements like lighting and filming.
In past years this event has taken place during a regular school day. Juniors and seniors were excused from class where they then watched the event in the school's auditorium.
In 2014 a livestream was added to two areas of the school. However, challenges still surfaced when students couldn’t see a whole talk because of class time interference.
This year our Tedx event will be accessible to every student and faculty member as well as some community members. Juniors and seniors will attend the event in the auditorium while freshman and sophomores will watch live streams in eight different locations around the building. Another live stream at the Thomas Memorial Library will be available for community members.
According to Nilsen, Cape Elizabeth High School was the “first high school in the state of Maine to put on a TedxYouth event,” and every year the club strives to make it better. In order to make those improvements the club meets once a week and even during the summers.
TedxYouth at CEHS is primarily run by students in the club. They vote on speakers and decide on the flow of the day.
Senior co-chair Ryan Wallace says, “It's amazing, it’s inspiring.” Wallace has been involved in the club since his sophomore year in 2014 when he was a student performer.
Another senior, Rose Punsky, has also been in the club since her sophomore year as a volunteer, but now she is in charge of communications and livestreams. “It’s a different and new experience to be in a club that produces an event, different than other clubs where you just have meetings.” Students work tirelessly to make this event as beneficial as it can be, and a lot of outside student work goes on behind the scenes.
Promotional manager Maddie Stephen says, “I post Instagrams every week to get students interested in the event. The goal is to make the event known and get people excited about it. In a group of highschoolers, it’s hard to know who will be really excited about this event and who won’t. My job is to make it fun because that's what this event is.”
Stephen adds, “Our club is thriving and I want people to see it. I have so much fun doing it! I love it!”