In 2012, Gabrielino alumnis Raymond Lam and Sharon Liu began Gab Talks, a week long event in which students and staff members were allowed to share their stories in the school’s theatre during lunch. This year, the tradition persisted on Feb. 26 to March 2, expanding to include members of the local community as well.
Seniors Jannelle Dang and Sydney Jung hosted the event, working alongside the Associated Student Body (ASB) to read through applications and pick a total of 10 speakers, two for each day. Reading the applications also allowed them to decide this year’s theme: “Passion matters”.
Modeled after the popular videos “Ted Talks, ” Gab Talks allows each speaker to present their story in a 15 minute time frame to a crowd of over 200 students. Speakers are encouraged to utilize props, powerpoints, or any other tool that allow them to highlight certain events in their tales.
Science teachers Kevin McClure and Thomas Velekei became the first to present their speech as a duo when they spoke about their everlasting friendship. Sharing pictures with the audience, they explained how they met and their interactions that led them to teaching at the same school almost 35 years later.
“I really wanted to do Gab Talks with [Kevin] because I thought it could teach students how to maintain strong bonds. It also helped humanize us teachers and showed the kids that we don’t actually live at school,” Velekei joked.
In a similar manner, alumnus Roy Rosell braved his fear when he took the stage to explain his journey in triumphing over public speaking. He revealed that throughout his high school and college years, he opted out of speaking in public no matter what the consequences until a situation forced him to stop, leading to the publication of his book, “Scared Speechless: My Crazy Journey to Mastering Fear.”
“I’ve suffered tremendously for most of my life with fear, doubt and hesitation, and I know many in the audience currently do as well,” explained Rosell. “I wanted the audience to know what it takes to defeat these barriers, so they don’t miss out on achieving wonderful things because of these restricting emotions.”
Other speakers included students Mariah Aragonez, Kaya Dang, Victoria Nea, and Winfred Wang, faculty members Marguerita Drew, Dave Cameron, and Sheila Mateo, as well as local police officer Martin Garcia. Through listening to their stories, students at Gabrielino were able to connect to members of the community in the form of shared experiences.
“The students watching get to see that other people are going through the same things that they do,” ASB advisor Yvonne Aparicio said. “This is so important because they need to know that everyone voices are heard.”
In the future, administration hopes to extend the duration of Gab Talks and expand the theme to encompass important issues such as mental health. The school’s lack of proper resources to deal with the inevitable aftermath of students’ reactions, as shown from previous years, prevents them from doing so as of now. However, steps have been taken to rectify this problem, starting with the employment of therapist Denise Faigao in late of last year.
What started as a simple speaking event has evolved into a creative outlet that students love and look forward to attending every year. With this program, administration seeks to not only cultivate a campus driven by diversity and compassion but also to gift the students with experiences that they will retain beyond high school.
To watch this year’s and previous year’s speakers at Gab Talks, go to https://www.youtube.com/user/ghseagletv/videos.