LANCETalks Launched at Livingston High School


LIVINGSTON, NJ – On March 4, Livingston High School held a special program called LANCETalks, which was modeled after TED Talks, a popular forum that spreads ideas from a broad spectrum of topics and fields from science to business and global issues. 24 LHS students and teachers spoke on topics that ranged from national competitive synchronized figure skating, sneaker culture, and reasons to show pride in our state of New Jersey to the arts, enlightenment, and social justice—each a well-crafted personal journey for both the giver and listeners. The multimedia presentations were filmed by television production students and LTV with plans to produce video segments to share with the full school community.

According to a Livingston representative, “LANCETalks” featured 24 intellectually stimulating, concise, and soul-stirring live presentations from both teachers and students. The topics alone were inspiring. From teacher Gisela Gugger, “Life Before and After the Revolution: Lessons learned from living under Communist rule in Cuba.” And senior Andrew Goldman’s lively “How a Pencil Can Change the World.”

“Knowing that our high school community is home to so many amazing people with incredible stories of our own, we thought it would be fun to create a homegrown version of the TED Talks conference to celebrate the best that LHS has to offer,” said Kevin Wittmaack, 9-12 English Department Supervisor, who organized the event.

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Global challenges were presented on a variety of topics including Dylan Camche’s “Language Behind Enemy Lines: What Russia Has Taught Me” to Jeremy Knopf’s amusing account of a teenage guy from Livingston playing badminton with a group of middle-aged women in China.

Michael Meadow, a senior science researcher, talked about the importance of scientific curiosity in a growingly complacent world. “The only thing keeping humanity from reaching its full potential is us,” he said.

Senior Albert Chalom shared a talk on the fishing children—the young boys and girls in Ghana sold by their parents into slavery in hopes for a better life and education, with his peers at

Harvard-bound Chalom said that he discovered the fishing children on a mission to Ghana, where he and a group called "Breaking the Chain Through Education," tried to rescue the kids working on rickety fishing boats in a manmade lake with trees underwater. He said that when fishing nets get caught, these children are forced to dive into freezing water to free the nets from branches. Quite often, in the attempt to free the net, the fishing children get caught and drown.

Chalom said that despite the fact that many people believe slavery no longer exists, there are actually about 30 million slaves around the world today. He shared that there is one particular image of a child that has remained with him, a small boy shrinking in shame as his master ticks off all the boy’s faults—the irony is the name of the boat on which the boy sits, “Dignity.”

In closing, Chalom shared a story—a proverb of a beach covered with millions of starfish washed up on sand. A man walking on the beach sees in the distance a boy picking up starfish and tossing them back in the sea. The child is asked what he is doing. “The sun is up, the tide is going out. If I leave these starfish on the beach, the sun will dry them up and they will die.” The man tells the child the task is impossible, there are too many and that his efforts will not make a difference. The boy picks up another starfish, and tosses it into the sea. “You may be right,” he says, “but it will make a difference for that one.”

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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