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Palo Alto high school holds TEDx talk featuring students, community members

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After a year of planning, Palo Alto high school students unveiled their TEDx talk that featured students and community members. (KGO-TV )

They're called ideas worth spreading, the short inspirational speeches known as TED talks. Palo Alto teenagers heard some of those talks in person and they said it gave them a whole new perspective on people in their own community.

Roni Manor spoke in the auditorium of Palo Alto's Gunn High School, but this is not a school assembly.

"I was 6-years-old when I had my first encounter with a bully," Manor said.

TEDx, an offshoot of the annual TED conferences, is a place to hear bright ideas told through personal stories. From a water filter inventor to a teenage software designer and even a choreographer, the student organizers began scouring the high school and the community a year ago to find the very best speakers.

"It feels really good. people are coming to this thing we've been planning for so long, and they're enjoying it," said TEDx Gunn High School co-president Giannina Yu.

The talks all follow what's become a proven formula repeated at TEDx events all over the world. Each one is personal in some way and they all last just about 18 minutes.

"It's something that's genuine, it's something that's heartfelt. The best talks that are out there are people that are speaking with passion," said Eric Ledgerwood, TEDx faculty advisor

People like Manor. "I was called names nonstop during the day. Most of which I can't start to say on school grounds. I was kicked and hit. I was made fun of. I was followed home," Manor said. Giving that talk to an audience of mainly classmates took courage. "Very vulnerable, and exposing myself, but I don't regret it," Manor said.

The talks are recorded, and posted online, but seeing them in person is a rare opportunity.

"The cost of going to a large TED convention is really prohibitive, even for most adults," Ledgerwood said.

The event is free, with topics aimed at teens. This year's theme was more than a number.

"How people shouldn't be defined by their test scores, or their GPAs, or even like their income levels when they're getting financial aid," Yu added.

While they may leave informed or inspired some left in awe of their classmates.

"Because when you see them in class you just know them from, 'Hi, I did a project with you.' But it turns out that they have amazing lives," said Gunn High School senior Katharine Woo.

Related Topics:
educationentertainmenttechnologyhigh schoolstudentsPalo Alto
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