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TEDx at Santa Catalina School – The Power of Ideas

Starting in 1984, a conference devoted to celebrating and sharing the newest discoveries from the worlds of Technology, Entertainment, and Design came together. The purpose of these conferences were to teach people from all three fields about the newest findings discovered in their individual worlds. As the conference grew into a worldwide event, the nonprofit TEDx was formed and became devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Today, in two annual conferences — the TED Conference and TED Global — are held, and award-winning TED Talks are given along with TED Conversations and the Open Translation Project.

The Open Translation Project was initiated in 2009 with the goal of ensuring all people have the chance to be apart of TED and its mission of spreading new ideas and discoveries across the globe. The program eliminates boundaries as volunteers from around the world work to translate and subtitle all TED talks so anyone from anywhere can enjoy the opportunity to attend an event or listen in online and learn from these inspiring speakers. The project initially had two hundred volunteer translators, however since then it has grown to have roughly 28,000 volunteers. Thanks to the men and women who jump-started this project, TED talks can now be shared in hundreds of different languages. This program further advances TED’s aim to be a world-wide media organization.

What exactly are TED talks though and where do they occur? TED talks are held around the world in various locations from conference rooms to performing arts centers where people gather to learn about different speakers journeys and their goals to make the world a better place. Audiences can range from adults gathering to hear about the newest medical technological discoveries or students in high school hoping to gain knowledge about how they can carve their own path in the world. Highly respected events, TED talks are just one portal the TED organization uses to communicate new ideas and inspire others around the world to make a difference in their own ways. The Talks are uploaded on TED’s website and the knowledge gained from these events are then shared in TEDx Programs that are set up across the globe. An innovative way to bring a bit of TED to individual communities though is the option of receiving a license from the organization and holding your very own TEDx event; which is exactly what our Catalina girls decided to do six years ago.

Since 2013, Santa Catalina has hosted their very own student lead TEDx event where they have brought speakers from around the world to talk about their experiences and discoveries with our Catalina community. This years event themed around “Chasing the Light” aims to explore the deeper questions pertaining to light such as:


  • What light are scientists shedding within their fields? What are the latest new ideas and discoveries?
  • How can we open our eyes to the metaphoric light within others and ourselves?
  • Can we bring light to the issues long held in the dark and gain a new perspective?
  • What can we do to bring light into the darker aspects of life?
  • Is there a spiritual light within and/or around us, and if so, how can we perceive it?


For many years, our Catalina girls tirelessly work to put on the annual TEDx event; however none may have been so challenged as Taylor Ford and her team this year when nature itself decided to cause trouble. Battling rain, wind, and falling tree’s this years 2018-2019 TEDx event has been postponed at the moment due to a ill-timed power outage on campus. Currently, all of the girls continue to chase the light and hold out hope as they look for a new date to host the event. While in the midst of rescheduling, I spoke to Taylor Ford ‘20, head of this year’s Santa Catalina TEDx Team to ask her a couple questions about her experience thus far. When asked about TEDx’s impact on her life and her opinion on the importance of holding TEDx events at  Santa Catalina, Taylor said,My experience as the head of our TEDxSCS 2019 team has been an absolute whirlwind. Having such an important opportunity entrusted to me came with a lot of stress and pressure that I imposed on myself to make sure that I didn’t let anyone down. Although, as the experience progressed, I learned so much about myself and the school and leadership that my entire mindset had shifted…I am beyond thankful to have had such an amazing and devoted team…Being a leader takes a lot of practice and ultimately, TEDx taught me that by keeping a positive mindset despite all hardships and working relentlessly to overcome obstacles, anything can be achieved (unless the power goes out).”

However the tides may turn, Taylor is chasing her own light while learning and growing from her experience as a TEDxSCS head. While taking on the role of head of TEDx, girls are challenged while working many different aspects of planning an event. From choosing a theme and design to go with that years event, to ensuring Catalina’s license was confirmed for the correct date, and then making sure the PR Team was rallying our target audience in preparation for this years initial February date, Taylor was working tirelessly to pull off a seamless event with her strong team of Catalina girls rallied behind her. Fighting sickness, nature, and a wrinkled tablecloth among other obstacles, Taylor and her team certainly faced numerous different challenges, but the factor that has remained constant is the overwhelming support and positivity that has shined through from each and every member of Catalina’s TEDx team this year.

Curious about how she feels starting the process of passing on the torch of leadership to someone else by the end of this April, whether her event goes on or not; I asked what her thoughts are going forward. Taylor’s eloquent response summed up her own personal positivity and passion for the time she has spent while on the TEDxSCS team when she said, “ I’m very excited to pass my baby on to a new sets of hands and hopefully our ‘Chasing the Light,’ event will go public in the near future…I honestly can’t say enough about how invaluable and unique TEDx is. It’s an absolutely amazing opportunity, event, and organization and I love literally every part of it. For Team Heads, they receive firsthand experience with leading and delegating and team members learn collaboration and interfacing with professionals. It’s so incredible how we combine so many different groups of people and are able to spread so many ideas and stories in a mere two hours.¨

While two hours may seem abominably long or way too short depending on a person’s perspective, Taylor’s honest opinion on the shock that comes with fitting so much information into a realistically small portion of time rings true in regards to the opinion that time does not always determine the scale of an impact someone’s words can leave on you. Taylor shares that, “TED is centered on ideas worth spreading and every single year we are able to gather stories that can genuinely have an impact on people — words are underestimated and very powerful.” Just as one compliment, one well-wished statement as simple as ‘I love you’, or one sentence that ‘You got the job’ can change a person’s track in life, TED’s mission of “Ideas worth spreading” truly inspires people to have courage, learn from each other, and pursue the passion that makes you shine. For stories, and more specifically words can change your perspective on life itself.

Want to hear more about this year’s TEDx event and their speakers? Visit to read more!