Sophomore Leah Negero shares her speech: “The Sprinting Poet.” Photo: Patrick Pan

Pace held its third annual Ted Talk on Sunday, Oct. 16. The theme of the event was “The Game Behind the Game,” and it was hosted by sophomore Claire Jiang and senior Davis Rice. “This event was made special because so many different students were able to leave their mark on the event,” said Rice. “Some were hidden, but [they] made a world of difference.” 

The lack of adult speakers set this TEDx event apart from the previous two. “This event was the first TEDx event to feature exclusively students, working with me,” said 11th-grade English teacher Mr. Kaufman.

There were several other significant changes with the event compared to last year. Seniors Jack Schmitt and Ava Byrne created a hype video for the first time to generate some excitement for the event. Additionally, the number of speeches was significantly reduced; there were six speakers this year compared to nine last year. 

The first speaker was senior Camille Caton. In her speech titled “Slaying the Monster,” Caton describes her struggles with dyslexia, and how she learned to deal with her condition. She shares an anecdote about feeling excluded and different from others due to her inability to do mental math. The guidance from her teachers and parents helped her accept and cherish her difference. “The message that I wanted to get across was that everyone has their own story and it is okay if their story is not like others,” said Caton. “ You can still succeed and have a successful future and high school career, even if you have some bumps in the road.” 

Next up to speak was junior David Fu. In his speech, he spoke about his experiences playing the piano and the cello in “How Playing the Cello Shaped my Life.” Fu shows how his journey through music taught him valuable life lessons. The highlight of the speech was his cello performance; he played The Swan by Camille Saint Saëns. 

Sophomore Leah Negero was next up to speak. “I was lucky enough to see Kate Romero give her speech at “The Force of Words” TEDx event last year and the way that she connected her writing to her art truly inspired me,” said Negero. “I yearned to give someone else this feeling of pure inspiration Kate was able to give me!” In her speech “The Sprinting Poet,” she describes her experiences as a writer trying track for the first time, and how she was able to let go of the idea of perfection and embrace improvement. “Improvement is all that truly matters, and as long as you’re truly passionate about what you do, improvement is likely. All you have to do is keep pushing,” said Negero. 

Freshman John Hardesty was next up to speak. “I wanted to speak to share my experience with others, as well as to hopefully get people to reflect on their past and think about what makes them who they are,“ said Hardesty. In his speech “The Power of Fifteen,” Hardesty describes his struggles with asthma, and how the medical staff, who treated him with such kindness, made his frequent, overnight visits to the hospital much more bearable. He describes the importance of the number fifteen, the number of times he has had pneumonia, and how, like athletes, everybody has a number representing their identity. “The message I wanted to convey was that no act of kindness is ever too small and we each have a chance to positively shape and influence each other’s lives,” said Hardesty.

Sophomore Amina Zubairi was next up to speak. In her speech, “Mere Kahani,” she describes her childhood as a Pakistani Muslim. Zubairi describes the shame and exclusion she felt because of her identity, but how her passion for martial arts helped her find pride in her cultural heritage. She found comfort and confidence through martial arts and has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. She demonstrated her mastery of the nunchucks during her speech and performed a Tae Kwon Do demonstration. 

Class of 2019 Drew Schiffer was the last speaker. As a senior at Syracuse University, Schiffer polled some of his college friends and created a list of advice he thought was important. He flew in from New York to deliver his “One Percent Better” speech.  In his speech, he focuses on one aspect of the list: daily improvement. He shares the story of his first triathlon, and how through small, daily improvements, he was able to complete it.

Get the discussion going! Leave a comment or reply below.