Franklin High School’s First TEDx Event Explores ‘Innovation Within’

Board of Education member Nishita Desai, Sneh Patel, Arnav Tolat and Jerijah McCray, left to right, at the Franklin High School TEDx event. Photo: PJ Parker.

By PJ Parker.

“Innovation Within” was the theme of Franklin High School’s inaugural TEDx event held Feb. 17.

Based on the TED Talk concept, the event was organized by Franklin High School Future Business Leaders of America and Model UN student leaders Arnav Tolat and Sneh Patel, and their team.

TED Talk, a media organization whose mission is “Ideas Worth Spreading,” was founded by Richard Wurman and Harry Marks in 1984. The early focus on TED – an acronym for Technology, Entertainment and Design – was on technology and design, and has since broadened its scope to explore topics in science, culture and academics.

Past speakers at the annual TED Talk have included former Pres. Bill Clinton, former Vice Pres. Al Gore, Jane Goodall, Bill Gates and many Nobel Prize winners.

TEDx events, modeled after the TED Talk principles, are independently organized within a particular community. The format typically includes live presenters from within that community, combined with TED Talk videos adhering to the theme of “ideas worth spreading.”

Tolat and Patel said they wanted to present TEDx at the high school as an opportunity to explore “innovation within.”

“We wanted to create new thought perspectives to include science, music, art, business, media, medicine and technology,” Tolat said.

The organizers had the assistance of Model UN faculty advisor Lou Guglielmo and Edward Ward, the student Board of Education liaison.

Jerijah McCray, an FHS junior, was one of the featured speakers. The theme of his talk was “What Is Your Why.”

“This (the FHS TEDx event) is not a radical platform or scripted presentation,” McCray said, “but a day filled with unique ideas and personal perspectives designed to inspire new ways of thinking.”

Tolat and Patel first approached Guglielmo, who said he had been impressed with their ambition to foster this project.

“I had known Arnav and Sneh from Model UN when they approached me to help bring in TEDx,” Guglielmo said. “Although a big project, when they showed me they’d prepared their business plan, budget and got their team into place, I was really impressed.”

Tolat and Patel also secured a New Jersey Education Association Pride in Education grant through the Franklin Township Education Association to cover expenses to produce the event.

Speakers from the township community, and their topics, included:

  • Ron Richter: The Importance of Mentorship
  • Alexa Curtis: Rejection
  • Joe Porter: Overcoming the Odds
  • Timothy Walton: Perseverance
  • Saffie Kallon: Positive Personal Presentation
  • Nate Sankary: Konnakol: Ta, Ka, Di, Mi & You
  • State Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker: Science, Literacy and Democracy
  • Jerijah McCray: What is Your Why
  • Remy Salloum: The Healing Power of Destruction
  • Shravan Venkatesan: Why People Wear Suits … And Why They Shouldn’t
  • Sohin Shah: The Power of Discomfort

Franklin Township Special Projects Manager Saffie Kallon said, “You’d think this was adults, it was all kids. I couldn’t be more proud.”

Also in attendance was school board member Mike Smith,

The event, he said, was “well-planned, well-executed, can’t wait till next year.”


Your Thoughts


Please Support Independent Journalism In Franklin Township!

No other media outlet covering Franklin Township brings you the depth of information presented by the Franklin Reporter & Advocate. Period. We are the only truly independent media serving the Eight Villages.

But we can only do that with your support. Please consider a yearly subscription to our online news site; at $37 a year, it’s one of the best investments you can make in our community.

To subscribe, please click here.

Other News From The Eight Villages …