Jake Heilbrunn, 20, speaks about connecting to the present and taking risks.
San Dieguito Academy

San Dieguito hosts TEDxEncinitas

Youth speakers addressed an adult audience at TEDxEncinitas Saturday at San Dieguito Academy. The event was titled Changing Voices, incorporating topics such as immigration, political activism and technology. Entertainment was provided by singers, musicians and spoken word poets all comprised of teenagers.

The event was put together with the intention of providing a more localized experience, said event organizer Bobbi Cecio, SDA Foundation president, who had previously worked with the larger scale TEDxSanDiego.

Differing from most TED events, the speakers, whose ages ranged from 11 to 20 years old, provided a youth’s perspective to an older audience.

“As someone who has been in education for 22 years, I know that the youth have as much or more to teach us adults as we have to teach them, so I decided to turn the tables,” Cecio said.

Speakers found that it was an interesting change to speak to an adult audience.

“It was challenging to cater the message to adults because they typically are the ones teaching us, but it was a cool experience to have the roles reversed,” said San Dieguito Academy senior Ross Urbina, who spoke about the importance of youth finding their passion and using it to make a difference.

The speeches incorporated a variety of short anecdotes and personal stories as well as call-to-actions.

“I wanted to share my perspective,” Urbina said. “I always had an interest in my subject and I also have an internship with a woman whose job revolves around the topic, so I was able to learn more.”

Those who spoke at TEDxEncinitas were chosen from a pool of diverse applicants based off of ages and backgrounds, according to Cecio.

“We first solicited potential speakers and then vetted them for content, ensuring that their topics tied into the theme and also that we didn’t have too many people speaking about the same things,” Cecio said.

They wrote their speeches and then worked with speech coaches who provided guidance during their revision process. Some had strategies to memorize the 13 to 18-minute speech.

“I first memorized each section individually and then memorized the first part of each paragraph. Then I recited the whole thing about ten times,” Urbina said.

Students also took on responsibility behind the scenes of the event in teams consisting of both youth and adults, handling everything from overseeing the stage to working to prepare the speakers.

“I was given a really big role [as stage manager] and it was my responsibility to get everybody in their places at just the right time,” San Dieguito senior Fey Salgado said. “It was working under pressure that made my experience super exciting.”

As stage manager, Salgado was in charge of micing the speakers, getting them on stage, and calling cues. She worked with both youth and adults.

“It was a very different experience giving directions to the adults [whom] I am used getting directions from,” said Salgado. “They made it clear that I was in charge of guiding them to make the production run smoothly.”

As student leader of the speaker section, San Dieguito senior Madison Tucker acted as a “speaker shadow” so that speakers could have someone to go to with questions and problems during the event.

“I [followed] the entertainers around and kept them calm and made sure they were taken care of,” Tucker said.

During the breaks between speaker sessions, the experience team provided activities for the audience.

“The goal was to have people connect and interact with one another to inspire thoughts, questions and conversations,” Cecio said.