10 Brown County Students in the spotlight at the TEDx event


What happens when passionate students meet an audience? That’s exactly what the TEDx event showcased.

Ten Brown County students took centerstage on May 18 at the Brown County Music Center to present their TEDEd projects to a crowd of over 415 people. The theme of the presentation was, “Just Press Play: You hold the remote control to life!” encouraging youth to take control of their lives and futures.

The student lineup was Scarlett Record, Reike Kugler, Ethan Marshall, Lillee Sheckles, Scarlett Day, Erin Murphy, Noah Lewis, Eyan Stanley, Aviendha Cox and Willa Quintero. Joining the youth on stage were four presenters including Butler Univeristy Assistant Professor Dr. Lori Desautels, Founder and CEO of the STARTedUP Foundation Don Wettrick, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods Sister of Providence Sister Jeanne Hagelskamp and NFL Indianapolis Colts Cornerback Kenny Moore II.

Brown County Schools Superintendent Emily Tracy told the Democrat that all five schools filled out the applications to be considered TEDEd schools in August.

Once schools are approved, they are able to provide the after school club offering curriculum provided by TEDEd to help students learn how to present on global stages.

“Meanwhile, I applied for a TEDx license so our district would be able to host an official TEDx event,” Tracy said. “I was faced with many challenges along the way and was told ‘no’ a few times by TEDx and by potential donors because they didn’t believe it would be a successful event by a small, rural school district. But because of a relentless pursuit and big vision, we finally got approval and licensure!”

There were 47 students in the TEDEd after school programs and 42 auditioned for the TEDx event, according to Tiffany Etter Indiana Medicaid Marketing Director for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

“Students that participated in TEDEd clubs in each of the five Brown County Schools were offered the opportunity to audition for the TEDx stage,” Etter said. “In April, Brown County Schools held auditions for students that wanted to give a TED talk. Community Member and Partner Lisa Hall, Community Member and Donor Jenny Johnson and Superintendent Emily Tracy were the panel of judges. They utilized a rubric to assist with the scoring of each talk that was based upon presentation literacy skills and the theme of the event. Students were notified by Emily Tracy and had one month to fine tune their TEDx talk with coaches.”

Etter said that among the 10 students presenting, four were from high school, one was from middle school and five were from the various elementary schools in the county.

“This opportunity empowered local students to not only believe they can do BIG things, but to do those BIG things,” Etter said. “These events teach youth how to communicate with others effectively, articulate ideas clearly, and speak with confidence – a true skill set for the future. This was the first-ever TEDx event in the state of Indiana to provide a platform for youth to share their innovative and creative ideas.”

Tracy said that she got the inspiration for the event when she saw the TEDEd program during a school visit in San Diego, California.

“I saw an opportunity right here in our county to elevate the student voice and took our Brown County team out to visit Cajon Valley Unified School District,” Tracy said. “Once our team was able to see the incredible opportunities for kids, they wanted to be part of something really big too!”

Tracy said that Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield sponsored $5,000 for the event and she raised the rest of the money from local businesses, corporations and private donors.

“The funding was 100 percent sponsored and donated,” Tracy said. “I was in a relentless pursuit to find the funding outside of Brown County Schools. I raised just under $100,000 for this event. I am incredibly grateful for the support of our sponsors and donors — it could not have been pulled off to this caliber without their belief in our vision.”

The event was open to the public with a free ticket.

Tracy said that they are planning on having this event again next year. Students can voluntarily join the TEDEd after school program to have the opportunity of gaining the skills and auditioning for the TEDx event.

“Our kids have a lot to say and we need to start listening to them,” Tracy said. “I hope they gain empathy and a global perspective. I hope our students gain confidence in themselves and are better equipped with presentation literacy skills that will advance them in their future endeavors. I hope our community sees the value and impact TEDx can have on our kids and school community.”

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