Leadership Prep School in Frisco will host its second TEDxYouth event on April 24, 2021, and we got to chat with one of the cool kids who is planning to deliver her first-ever TED Talk! (We’re guessing there will be more of these in her future…)
LPS teachers Loralea Ray and Tony Curtis, along with fifth grade student Shania Nagpal, joined The Frisco Podcast to share the fun facts about TEDxYouth. We talk about the school’s application process, the rehearsals, and the soon-to-be-famous kids who have some impressive topics planned.
Listen and be inspired, Frisco! Details as to how you can watch 2021 TEDxYouth Frisco are within… Enjoy this episode.
[01:26] How does a school apply to host a TEDx event?
[02:38] Last year’s inaugural TEDx event in Feb 2020, the speakers and topics
[05:11] The speaker selection process for the 2021 event
[07:25] How it works this year, live audience and YouTube
[08:34] Student Shania shares about her TEDx aspirations
[09:38] Getting ready for TEDx – choosing a topic, rehearsals, and having fun!
[11:56] 2021 Speaker topics
[12:50] What students are learning from the experience
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Welcome to the Frisco Podcast. I’m your host, Nicole Barron. And today I have the privilege of chatting with Leadership Prep School in Frisco. If you’re not familiar LPS, as we like to call them, is a highly regarded charter school, um, in West Frisco. And they are on a mission to inspire students, to learn, grow, and lead for a lifetime. They have a lot of incredible programs and curriculum that do exactly that. One of those we get to chat about today. It’s a very, very impressive- Leadership Prep will be hosting their second TEDx event. And I have, um, two teachers and a student who have a lot to share with us about it. And you’re definitely going to want to, um, watch the live event when it happens online. So let’s just dive in and find out all about it. Welcome to my guests. We have Loralea Ray, who is a teacher at Leadership Prep.
We have Tony Curtis, also a teacher at Leadership Prep. And we have Shania Nagpal, a fifth grade student, which is very special that we have her here today because she’s going to tell you all about what she plans to share at TEDx. Welcome. Hi, thank you so much for having us. You are very welcome. It’s our pleasure. So let me just back up at the beginning and just say it cannot be easy. We hear about TEDx all the time. It’s a very big deal. It’s all over the country, the world. How does a school in Frisco, Texas get to host a TEDx? It can’t be easy. Are there a lot of rules requirements? How did this happen?
Uh, yeah, definitely a lot of rules and requirements. Uh, last year was our first year. And, uh, it really just starTED with a brainstorm, uh, about how some of us were doing little mini, uh, sort of fake TED talks in our classroom. You know, just, just to kind of make the presentations seem more fun. And just one day I thought, “wait a second, why are we doing fake TED talks? Let’s do a real one?” And so we just went to TED.com and we looked up the requirements and submitted an application. And really within 30 days they approved the application and we were in,
Oh my goodness. Well, they must’ve been impressed because I, again, there’s there must receive a lot of applications really, but it’s special when there are students involved. That’s that changes everything. How all of we adults think we have a million great things to say, but when it’s kids, that’s better. I want to know what they have- Shania’s nodding your head. I can see that. And you can ask. Right. Um, okay. So last year was the first one and it was right before the COVID craziness hit. Right. So you were able to have a live event at that time, is that correct? Yes. Okay. So how many students were involved in that and how old were they? Tell me a little bit about that event.
Uh, I, I believe we had 11 speakers ranging from second grade through 12th grade and, um, and really the ones that stole the show tended to be the, the younger ones.
Really. How cool. What kinds of things did they talk about? Do you remember? I don’t mean to put you on the spot. It was like a year and a million things ago.
Yeah. Younger ones. Um, well, the TED Talks themselves were about, um, overcoming hardships, which you don’t think of a second grader having to overcome that much, but it was, it was really inspiring talks, for sure. Having to just overcome, you know, negative thinking, uh, bullying, how to find that spark within yourself, but they are. Our theme last year was “evolve.” So all of the talks had a little something to do with how, um, you know, the evolution from one, one place to another or something like that. Um, so they ranged anywhere from talking about, you know, positivity and trying to make sure that you kind of know your worth too. Um, our oldest, one of our seniors, um, he talked about how to change and reform the voting that was happening at that time, which actually became such a hot topic while we, you know, we’re in a lockdown this last presidential election, it was, it was really cool because everything that he talked about really came to fruition with like this real-life event that was happening on all of our, um, whenever we were watching the news during the lockdown. So it was interesting, but it is always interesting to see how a student takes that theme and applies it to their passion talk. You know, they apply it to their own life. So the talks can be such a wide range of things.
The speaker that she’s referring to, uh, Leo, he had a personal connection to it because he is a self-proclaimed Map Nerd. He creates maps for fun, specifically political maps. And he’s actually published some of those maps on Wikipedia. So high school student and he’s, you know, one of the experts in the world, you know, depending how you look at it on political maps.
Gosh, impressive. That’s very cool. I’ll have to look into that. So how did- now this year forwarding to this year. So the theme I heard is “catalyst.” How does a student get involved? So we’re fortunate to have Shania here, who we’re going to chat with her in a minute, but, um, how many students have applied to be a speaker this year? And what does it require? How did they, um, what do they have to demonstrate in order to be qualified for it?
So this year, because we had such a wide variety of how students were choosing to attend school, right? We had some students that were asynchronous. We had some students that were synchronous online, and then we had some students that are in-person. So we couldn’t just ask teachers for recommendations. You know, we like to take what a teacher has to say to heart, but it’s not the only thing we look for.
You know, we don’t- we tell teachers, we’re looking for kids that are passionate, that are not afraid to tell you their opinions and that, you know, don’t have a hard time taking a side on things. They’re passionate about, you know, one way or the other. Um, so you’re not always looking for the top of the class, the one that’s the best-behaved, you know, TED tends to invite in people that have a lot of fire in their belly for what they’re talking about. Um, and so this year was a little different because like, if a child, if a student had chose to be asynchronous, we don’t see them. You know, they- they’re choosing to not attend class every day, but just do their work at their own pace. And so we kind of took all of that into consideration and we took, uh, we gave, uh, uh, speakers- it’s like in Google, what was it? The form? Thank you. Thanks, Shania. Shania saves the day. We sent them a Google Form for anybody that was interested. And we would just let them fill it out. And then we kind of, you know, Tony and I met and we went through them all and at one- and then we decided, “you know what? We’re just going to let everybody try out.” So this year we decided if somebody felt passionate enough and they wanted to come in and they wanted to audition, then we just thought, why not? It’s a crazy year. Let’s just do this. I love about that is that’s one of the positive effects of the crazy weird year is that last year in person, you were limited your capacity was limited, right? How many speakers can we schedule in a day? And how many people can we have onstage? And if it’s all online this year, which is very cool. And I mean, every TED talk I’ve ever watched, I watched online. Um, so then you can, there’s really no limit is there? So what a great opportunity.
Yeah, well, we will actually have our speakers on the very same stage this year that we had last year. So we’ll have all the same lighting effects and all the equipment that we had last time. However, the audience will be much smaller. There only be two family members per speaker and a select number of, of teachers and staff, um, that have, have been interested. But, you know, for COVID, we, we, we can’t pack the room full of a hundred people like we did last year.
Right, gotcha. Yep. Okay. So I’m just really eager, eager, eager to chat with Shania. I’m so excited to chat with you, too. Thank you. You are precious. So I also have a sense that you are unbelievably intelligent already. I can already tell this and I’m eager to hear. So first of all, what made you want to do this? Why were you, you said you, this has been a dream forever. What made you want to sign up?
Well, growing up, I always like to be in front of a crowd. I always like to public speak. I was like to sing, I always like to play an instrument, but I never really had the opportunity to do it in front of a lot of people and to do it in such a big program. So when my English teacher, she, she was teaching us online and she said that she was a TED organizer and she gave us the link to that form. I like, I knew that I had to do it because I’ve always wanted to do it. So I, so I went downstairs after her class was over and asked my parents and they said it was a great opportunity and a great idea. And so I signed up and then we did the audition and then I got in and that day I was like smiling the whole day. I was so happy. And so, yeah, and I really just loved doing it so much fun. It’s been such a good experience.
I’m so glad. So tell me about the process. Like, how is it a lot of hard work? Do you have to rehearse and rehearse and rehearse? Tell me about that.
Yes. Some parts are easy and some parts are hard. Like signing up was pretty easy, but then making the whole speech was really pretty hard because you have to pick the right words. You had to make something that made sense. You had to add humor, you had to make it something that people would find interesting. And another thing that I found hard was like picking the topics. Cause they were like so many things that you could do anything. And then you have to pick something you’re passionate about. Like I’m passionate about so many things. So it took me like two days to pick a topic and yeah, it was really hard, but it was so much fun. Are you able to share with us what your topic is going to be or is that under wraps? Well, my topic is virtual reality and augmented reality and how you can escape a world if you have problems or violence and go into some, some place where you feel safe and excited and happy. And then with virtual reality and augmented reality, you can go to like a whole new world. Like if you’re in America, you can go to France or you can go to, well anywhere you can go to India, Dubai, the desert, it’s just like teleportation. And I think that’s so cool. It is. That’s very cool. I can’t wait to hear. So how long is your speech going to be, do you know? 10 to 11 minutes. 15. Video’s like 20 minutes but then we started limiting down. Yeah, I have a lot to say.
I’ve just, I told you this at the beginning, I’m an editor. That’s what I do. And that can be very hard, especially when it’s yourself to self-edit. Cause every word feels so important and “no, I want to say that and that and that and that.” And it’s very hard to cut things out, but it sounds like you’re learning a lot about how to keep the audience engaged and what do they need to hear and maybe not need to hear. And that’s a good, that’s a great thing to learn as you continue through school and then you go to college, you’re going to be writing papers and that’s going to be a great skill. I cannot wait to hear. So do you have, um, there must be some of your peers and friends involved as well. What are some of the other topics we’re going to get to hear? Do you know? Yes. There’s like such a huge Gradle topics. Like there’s so many, like every different type of thing. There’s just a topic for that. There’s beauty within. There’s like how golf can teach you life lessons, change-,making positivity and kindness, finding your inner voice, homelessness. There’s so many different topics and I’m so excited for you to hear all of them. I am, too, and you’re going to be famous. You’re going to be on YouTube. Well, I can’t think of a better place to be famous than on your school’s page where I know you’re very proud to be a student there. They’re so proud of you. So that is going to be fine. I promise. I’m going to watch for sure. So I’m going to jump back to your teachers for a second and then I would love to chat with you again in a second. So, um, as teachers, what do you see coming out of these students that, you know, the effect that this opportunity and this experience may have on, on your little speakers and all this hard work they’re doing?
Well. I mean, we’ve already seen a ton of growth in them during the rehearsal process. You know, we’re, uh, you know, we’re, we’re chipping away at the talks, you know, we’re telling them to do more of this and less of that. And, and, uh, and they’re just taking the, the advice and running with it. And, um, some of the humor that they’ve come up with, like, I don’t even think they realized it was funny when they said it, but as soon as soon as, as soon as they did, it’s like, “Oh, we gotta really focus on that. And we need a picture of a shark behind you on the screen when you say that. Cause that is hilarious.” So I didn’t even consider that-
Their self-esteem just goes through the roof. I mean, when they’re getting up on stage and they’re seeing that they’re able to overcome that fear and not only that. Just their, the passion that they have about the topics that they speak about. And then we also encourage them this year because they were limited to, you know, with all the COVID and everything we encouraged, um, this year’s students to call people in the community. You know, if they were writing about a certain topic, like homelessness, to call organizations in Frisco and talk to them about how they’re combating this, especially during COVID. So you have very young students who are calling the heads of organizations. They were having Zoom calls with them. And so, you know, one of the parents of one of the girls speaking this year said, um, she noticed at church, her daughter would just go up to older people and she was no longer afraid to just have a conversation with them. And she had never seen that before. So I think that’s really cool. This, that self-confidence, that they gain from learning how to speak to other people.
Absolutely. I think, I mean, I’m still working on that and I’m a whole lot older than Shania. That’s very impressive. And yes, that, that will serve you well, it’s great to have confidence and to challenge yourself, I was thinking about, um, just the mere fact that you have to memorize it. Right, Shania? You have to completely memorize it?
Yeah, no index cards on a TED stage.
No teleprompter. There’s nothing. And it, it struck me when you said a Tony about the shark image behind, I tell me about the digital side of this and what’s going on to help, you know, make it fun in the production side.
Oh, well, you know, as in most, uh, TED talks there often will be a projection screen behind them. And of course they never turn around to look at it. They’re always facing the audience. And we’re very fortunate to have an auditorium here that has that setup with a large screen behind our TED speakers. But at the back of the room, there is a big screen TV that’s mounted on the wall. That’s large enough, so they can see their own slides while looking forward above the heads of the audience. So, um, you know, we’re, we’re training them to watch those slides, not watch the ones behind them. And, and again, with TED, it’s not like a standard PowerPoint. You know, you’ll never see, you know, a list of bullet points that your audience has to try to read along with. It’s always a simple, beautiful graphic imagery that just adds value to the words that are coming out of their mouth. So we’re, you know, we’re teaching them to communicate both verbally and visually at the same time. And of course, we’re also teaching them about copyright and creative commons and make sure that we have the rights to use the images that are on there, because once you’re on YouTube, you know, there are thousands of people are going to see this, including maybe the owner of that copyright.
That’s a valuable lesson. Oh, wow. Okay. So I I’m again, so eager Shania to hear your, your speech coming up here real soon. Tell us, please, when the event is, um, any, any, whoever wants to chime in, when does the event and how can we support it? Since we can’t go in person, but we absolutely want to see all these cool, hardworking kids. How can we do that?
The event is on April 24th and then, uh, it’ll come out on YouTube. So I suppose you can support it by watching us and giving us views and liking our videos. Absolutely.
Smashing the “like” button.
Mash the “like” button. I like it. And share it and tell others. Absolutely. Shania, tell me, I’m going to ask you one last question: what do you like about your school, Leadership Prep?
I love everything. But something I like the most is the people here. They’re just so nice. And so are the teachers like these two teachers are so nice. They’re like incredible. They teach us all like everything and they’re also TEDx organizers. So that’s just like a plus. And then all the teachers and the people. They’re all so nice. Also. I love all the things you can do here. Like there’s different events that you can do. Like TED, there was a leadership summit previously and there’s also a bunch of classes and stuff. There’s like, in my old school there wasn’t any Spanish, but there’s Spanish here, which I think is cool. There’s fitness fundamentals. Yes. There’s robotics which is one of my favorite favorite classes. He taught us. It was also really [inaudible]. Right. Got to say that. Yes. Gotta plug my robotics class.
Yes. So Tony Curtis is the robotics teacher and Loralea Ray is the English teacher, a English teacher there. So yes. Are they, are they both your teachers then? Shania, you have both? Awesome. Well, how fun, how special that they’re also helping you with this other huge goal that you have with TEDx. Well, I just am so proud. I think it’s amazing that right here in Frisco, we’ve got TEDx. Is it TEDx Youth, technically? Is that what we call it? Is that right? Yes. That’s what I thought. So that’s pretty special and you all should be very proud of Shania. Keep on rehearsing. I know you’re going to nail it. You’re going to do a great job and I’m very eager to hear it. You’re going to do great. Well, I appreciate each of you sharing with us about the event, because again, I just, I think it’s very unique to Frisco and these kids are working so hard and it’s very something we’re very proud of for you. So thanks for giving us all the details.
Absolutely. Thank you so much for having us.
Thank you, all. Congratulations, Shania, on your great opportunity. Thank you. You’re very welcome.