Risks & Rewards: The 2nd Annual TEDxYouth@BHS Event

The second annual TEDxYouth@BHS event took place at the Fogelberg Performing Arts Center at Burlington High School on Saturday, April 30th, 216. This year’s theme, Risks and Rewards, guided 11 dynamic speakers as they prepared for months prior to stepping on stage and onto the infamous TED red circle rug.


This year’s event featured 6 educational thought leaders from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Indiana. These speakers are true advocates of student voice. Each of them is dedicated to transforming education and this is evident in their work both in and outside of their respective school districts. Their talks were thought provoking, challenged us to think in news ways, and several brought us to tears. We were honored to have them join us in Burlington. Below are some excerpts from their talks which will be available in the coming weeks.

Digital Learning Specialist Kerry Gallagher:
“What If? Let’s Reimagine Learning. Technology Can Help.”

“Learners are motivated more when they get recognized genuinely than they are by grades. Technology makes it easier for them to share their work beyond the classroom. Then they know their work matters.” 

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Assistant Superintendent Patrick Larkin:
“Breaking Tradition”

“We need to open new doors for our students for them to be able to discover new possibilities. When they do things that don’t fully make sense to us, we need to channel our inner Bud Sailors and tell them- ‘You should develop that’.” 

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TeacherCast.TV creator Jeff Bradbury
“Creating a Spark of Innovation”

“What are you doing today…to share your passions with the world? What are you doing…right now that could be considered taking a risk?”

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Author of Hacking Assessment and blogger Starr Sackstein
“Lose the Labels, Invest in Learning: A Recovering Perfectionist’s Journey to Give Up Grades.”

“It was time to change grading from an isolated judgemental experience into a collaborative conversation that didn’t seek to quantify learning, but rather express the depth of it. It was time to give students the words to talk about their learning in a meaningful way.” 

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EraseMeanness.Org founder Eric Johnson
“How Do You Want to be Remembered?”

“Meanness is universal, but so is love and kindness. Like that Friday after we stood back and looked at our whiteboard and we realized we couldn’t possibly erase all of the meanness in our lives, but we can make it better. Little by little.”

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The Digital Citizenship Summit Co-Founder Dr. Marialice Curran
“Lessons On Digital Citizenship From Charlie Brown.”

“Let’s flip the script and tell the stories that don’t make the headlines and let’s make digital citizenship a verb and help our students bridge the physical gap between communities by connecting, collaborating, learning and doing digital citizenship together with other students and classrooms around the world.” 

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The 2016 TEDxYouth@BHS event also featured 5 youth speakers whose messages were just as, if not more powerful, than our adult speakers. Our youth speakers, similar to our adult speakers, are advocates of change and are passionate about spreading their ideas related to education, technology, and learning. Everyone who heard from our youth speakers, both in our live audience and through our live stream, was blown away not only by how articulate they were, but their messages. Below are the youth speakers who joined us on the 30th and excerpts from their talks:

Curran Dee (Curran is the son of Dr. Marialice Curran…an amazing mother-son combination!)
“My Wish: Digital Access for All Students Everywhere”

“Remember, the best way to learn about the world is with the world. The risks might make you afraid and you might think avoiding social media is the best decision for your school, but you’re wrong. How will students learn to be safe, savvy, and ethical if we don’t have the opportunity to practice? We need to see our teachers, our parents, and our administrators model what it looks like every single day. The rewards outweigh the risks and students everywhere deserve it.” 


Nathalie Rodrigues Vaz Falcao, Junior at Montrose Academy
“How to be Successful”

“You see, being a member of the human race itself, I believe that human beings innately  want to help others. People love the feeling they get when they see the positive impact they make on others’ lives. They don’t want to live for themselves or by themselves, they want to interact and improve upon the society they are born in.” 

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Julie Becker, Senior at Westford Academy
“Building A Timeless Legacy”

“Now, in order to lead a life worth living or secure a legacy you’re proud of, there must be some risks taken. Anybody who became anybody in this world has taken risks to get there. Not all risks come with an automatic reward but each risk does come with a lesson learned.”

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Senila Yasmin, Senior at Wakefield Memorial High School
“Turning the Tables: Teachers as Students, Students as Teachers.”

“As a result of the implementation of technology, our students are better prepared for the road after high school. As a result of student support for this BYOD initiative, technology is everywhere…Looking back now, it’s hard to remember what Wakefield was without technology.”

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Timmy Sullivan, Senior at Burlington High School
“The Difference Between a Teacher and an Educator.”

“I tried to categorize these educators even further, beyond just grade level, and three types of educators emerged. Many of them overlapped, but the three distinct groups I found were the maternal or paternal educators, the innovators, and the hands-off educators. I think their names are self explanatory, but I want to provide an operational definition for each.”

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This is just a small sample of what our speakers shared with us on Saturday. Over the next several weeks, we will be tackling the post production process and we anticipate the full videos of each speaker’s talk will be uploaded to YouTube by the end of May. We will be sure to share each speaker’s talk once it is publicly available.

You can read more about these amazing students, educators, authors, administrators, and technology specialists on the speaker page of the official TEDxYouth@BHS website.

A huge and heartfelt thank you! 

TEDxYouth@BHS 2016 was a huge success thanks to several members of the Burlington community. First and foremost I would like to thank Burlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Eric Conti for his support of TEDxYouth@BHS.

Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 3.11.54 PMI would also like to thank my Principal, Mark Sullivan and BHS Athletic Director Shaun Hart along with the Tuscan Kitchen restaurant here in Burlington for providing a wonderful dinner for our speakers after the event. I would also like to thank Karen Demaso, the BPS Food Service Director, for the hors d’oeuvres offered during intermission. A huge thank you also goes to the BHS art department and specifically Department Head George Ratkevich and art teachers Christina Chang and Keith Mistler for their help in getting student artwork created and displayed at the event and their assistance in the creation of our printed promotional materials. Thank you also to John Middleton Cox, BHS Performing Arts Director, BPS IT members Jose DeSousa, Eric Calandriello and Bob Cunha, and Jen Dodge and Mike Duval from BCAT for their technical support and behind the scenes expertise in ensuring a successful production. I would also like to thank Don and Paula Boermeester and the entire Burlington Education Foundation for their support and contribution to the event. IMG_3656
A special thanks also goes to BHS Choral Director Jonathan Granger, the BHS Glee Club, members of the Front Ensemble, and Owen Johnson (our AMAZING sound booth operator) for providing exceptional entertainment during the event. And last, but definitely not least, thank you to my student co-organizer junior Dharini Kapadia and most of all, thank you to my co-organizer Colleen Jenkins, BHS Speech and Language Pathologist, for everything you did to help make the event possible. You can learn more about the members of our organizing team by visiting our website.

I am excited to begin the post production process and even more excited that members of the Help Desk will be assisting. Once again, students in the Help Desk will gain real-world learning experiences. They will have the opportunity to develop their editing skills with Final Cut Pro and as mentioned, we will have the videos available as soon as they are uploaded and approved by the officials at TEDx. To those of you who attended or watched our live stream, thank you! We hope that TEDxYouth@BHS will become an even bigger and better event in the years to come! If you caught any part of this year’s event, please share your thoughts in the comment section below and thank you for supporting the power and spirit of TED and “ideas worth spreading!”

Check out some great moments from TEDxYouth@BHS in the video below: 


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