In eighth grade, I won $1,000 for Tampa Prep as a result of winning the USF Young Innovators Competition. However, I didn't want the money to just get absorbed into the school’s general funds. I wanted to do something special for the school with it, however, I didn’t know exactly what I would do with it at the time.

I bounced around a few ideas until one stuck with me:  orchestrating a TEDx event for the school! I did a bit of research, and found out that other schools in the area had already had their own TEDx events. Not only did this show me that individual high schools were capable of hosting these kinds of events, it made me wonder why we haven’t had one ourselves yet. That’s when I decided that TEDx was the perfect use for that $1,000. I was going to use it to showcase all the great ideas and perspectives Prep has to offer. 

Having the idea to orchestrate a TEDx event was easy enough, but actually getting it to happen was a much bigger challenge than I could have anticipated. First, I had to learn how to put together a strong application for a TEDx license. TED asked a lot of questions, and we went through a couple of rounds of review before the license was granted. As the event drew closer, between the constant stream of emails to set up meetings and relay information, the struggle to manage event-day logistics, and the numerous unexpected problems that seemed to appear at the worst times, the planning process was certainly quite difficult. Fortunately, we had a great student planning team, and Ms. Leonhardt, our Director of College Counseling, was with us every step of the way. 

On the day of the event, I was nervous. What if I mess up in my role as a host? What if the event just falls flat? What if nobody likes the event, making all our efforts a waste in the end? However, as the event went on, I saw that everyone, from the speakers to the audience members, was really enjoying it. I was not only relieved but also quite happy at this fact. I started to feel more confident about my role as the host, and managed to end the event on a high note.

TedX Sammy Alvarez

While all the speeches during the event were inspiring, there are a couple that really stood out to me.

  • Our Head of School, Mr. Kevin Plummer, talked about, “Communications:  Lines I love, and lines that just don’t measure up!” It is a powerful message about the effect that words and phrases can have on people.
  • Samuel Alvarez’s talk, “Gratitude,” is a moving reflection about his relationship with his family, and how he’s come to appreciate everything and everyone he has in his life.

We are currently in post-production mode, and will have edited videos of each of the speakers uploaded to the TEDx website soon. For now, the event in its entirety can be viewed on YouTube. I’m hoping that TEDx will become an annual Prep tradition. Our license allows for one renewal before a new application needs to be submitted. If anyone is interested in getting involved for next year and taking the baton from me (since I’m graduating), please let me or Ms. Leonhardt know.