Education

WHRHS TEDx: Student Empowerment at Watchung Hills

b0d23a2979d09da2d9c6_WHRHS_PHOTOS_Vineet_Parikh.jpg
f4d5fe52eca80da287d2_WHRHS_PHOTOS_Youth_WHRHS.jpg
d91a3982eda3edad1f11_WHRHS_PHOTOS_Jordyn_Arnel.jpg
b0d23a2979d09da2d9c6_WHRHS_PHOTOS_Vineet_Parikh.jpg

WARREN, NJ - Student empowerment was not just on the agenda, it was the agenda Monday night, June 19, at “TEDxYouth@WHRHS, an independently organized TED event,” at Watchung Hills Regional High School (WHRHS).

The TEDx event, which was the brainchild of 2017 WHRHS graduate Vineet Parikh, championed student empowerment,innovation and inspiration. It was he who first proposed holding such an event at WHRHS. Back in October 2015, Parikh was one of the student-members of the WHRHS team that helped shape the school’s “2015-2020 Strategic Plan, A Warrior Vision.”

In addition to contributing to the long range strategic plans, the TEDx event at WHRHS was also an example of one of those long range plans being implemented. Youth@WHRHS was an example of immediate discussions about how student inspiration, innovation, and empowerment can be turned intoreal, everyday improvements for Watchung Hills Regional High School (WHRHS). 

Sign Up for E-News

TEDx is one of several new programs that have been worked into the WHRHS student experience that grew out of the ongoing 2015-2020 Strategic Plan, A Warrior Vision.

The three goals adopted by the Board of Education as part of the plan are:

1. Create and expand programs and services that enhance the social and emotional wellness of all students within a compassionate learning community.

2. Build and strengthen support structures that engage students in developing their individual potential, enable students to experience success in high school, and empower students to plan and prepare well for post-secondary learning.

3. Integrate creative, innovative, and interdisciplinary learning throughout the district to empower and inspire students to succeed in a changing global community.

According to the TED organization, TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks, 18 minutes or less. TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.

Folks who organize a TEDx event, typically want to have a gathering marked by provocative speakers, thought-provoking videos, and as the TEDx literature says, “mind-blowingconversation.” The idea is: To create a unique gathering that will unleash new ideas, inspire and inform.

Whereas many TEDx events are more about technology, applied science, and/or geared toward work-place related and for work-empowering audiences, the WHRHS TEDx event was zeroing in on the issue of “student empowerment, innovation and inspiration.” It was an event: Suggested by a student;empowered by students; organized by students; with student speakers; and speaking to an audience of mostly high school, but also some middle school, students.

"When students approached the administration about hosting a TED talk here at school we were very excited,” said WHRHS Math and Business Supervisor Dan Twisler, who is familiar with and supportive of “21st Century” concepts. “We had seen great success with students taking leadership roles and felt honored that we would be able to host the event.  Students had a part in all aspects of the event from finance and sponsors, videography and photography, to collecting and being speakers.  We are thrilled with the results and have already begun plans for next year."

 

WHRHS Director of Curriculum and Instruction Mary Ellen Phelan said the student organizers approached the administration with the idea, in part because the students had already worked together with Phelan and Principal George Alexis, and others,during the district-wide strategic planning process.  

 

“In October of 2015, the planning team brainstormed a list of priorities which was embraced by Superintendent Elizabeth Jewett and the Board of Education,” said Phelan. “Our shared goal was to encourage our students in the areas of: Student leadership, more innovation, and creative technology.  VineetParikh was a very active participant, and that meeting provided the seed for the student vision for interdisciplinary collaboration. During our day-long discussion two years ago, board members, teachers, PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) representatives, administrators, and students talked about science fairs, coding projects, and research presentations.  What was noteworthy about the choice of a 2017 TEDx evening was that it brought to fruition an important response to an essential question, ‘How could we ensure that the strategic plan mattered to our present students?’"

 

The TEDx event was also another opportunity for the emphasis on interdisciplinary learning at WHRHS, Phelan said.  The TEDx student leaders recruited into this student-led learning process other WHRHS students to handle some real-world issues, such as planning, organizing and running a public symposium such as TEDx.

For instance, students who were taking accounting and business classes had opportunity to learn event budgeting. Students in the Culinary Club learned how to provide fresh-baked goods and other refreshments for the TEDx event. These practices are in line with other similar interdisciplinary learning coordinationseen earlier in the year with the staging of the Spring Musical, “Beauty and The Beast,” and at the Spring Arts Festival, to name just two.

“The students organizing the TEDx event, even though some were young, as young as sophomores, were nevertheless very resourceful in helping us to articulate a vision about empowering students at every opportunity,” said Phelan. “We all left the strategic planning meetings knowing that we needed more opportunities for students to learn beyond the classroom. We saw an urgency about filling this void to impact our students, both now and in the future.”

WHRHS PHOTOS Vineet Parikh

Student empowerment was not just on the agenda, it was the agenda Monday night, June 19, at “TEDx Youth@WHRHS, an independently organized TED event,” at Watchung Hills Regional High School (WHRHS). The TEDx event, which was the brainchild of 2017 WHRHS graduate Vineet Parikh, above, championed student empowerment, innovation and inspiration. It was he who first proposed holding such an event at WHRHS back in October 2015. He was one of the student-members of the WHRHS team that helped shape the school’s “2015-2020 Strategic Plan, A Warrior Vision.”

 

WHRHS PHOTOS Youth@ WHRHS

The TEDx event at WHRHS was suggested by a student, empowered by students, organized by students, with student speakers, and speaking to an audience of mostly high school, but also some middle school, students.

 

WHRHS Photos Jordyn Arnel

WHRHS Rising Junior Jordyn was one of the guest speakers at Youth@WHRHS. She spoke about empowerment. Among her many activities at WHRHS, she also plays on the Tennis Team and writes for The Arrowhead, the student newspaper.

 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

North Plainfield/Green Brook/Watchung

Manutti Marina in Belmar: Top Choice for Boating, Fishing and All-Around Family Fun

June 12, 2018

BELMAR, NJ — It’s no secret that Belmar Manutti Marina ranks among the best boating destinations along the Atlantic coast.

Tucked along the eastern shoreline of the idyllic Shark River — just a five-minute trip by boat to the ocean — the state-of-the-art marina is a top choice among boaters looking to stay for the season, enjoy a vacation or spend the weekend.

In ...

Manutti Marina in Belmar: Top Choice for Boating, Fishing and All-Around Family Fun

June 12, 2018

BELMAR, NJ — It’s no secret that Belmar Manutti Marina ranks among the best boating destinations along the Atlantic coast.

Tucked along the eastern shoreline of the idyllic Shark River — just a five-minute trip by boat to the ocean — the state-of-the-art marina is a top choice among boaters looking to stay for the season, enjoy a vacation or spend the weekend.

In ...

Summer Camp Programs for Children and Teens Announced By Environmental Education Center

June 18, 2018

BERNARDS TWP., NJ – Each summer, the Environmental Education Center (EEC) in Basking Ridge holds programs that let children and teens explore nature for summer activities that both entertaining and an opportunity to learn about the environment.

The programs are organized and led by the EEC's staff of naturalists.

The EEC is a Somerset County facility located at 190 Lord ...

Get Empowered to Help Prevent Suicide

June 8, 2018

Dear Editor:

Over the past week social media and the news have been filled with stories and articles encouraging people to seek help if they’re in emotional distress. There have been countless articles about the need to break the silence around the topic of mental health and suicide, and I am encouraged by the support people are extending to others.

Often, the death by suicide by ...

Obituaries

Jul 28, 1955 - Feb 8, 2018
Owner/Chef of Jaret’s Stuffed Cupcakes  Beloved Husband, Father, Brother and ...
Read more

Upcoming Events

Mon, June 25, 9:00 AM

Terrill Road Baptist Chruch, Scotch Plains

Terrill Road Baptist Church

WHRHS Athletics: 30 Watchung Hills Student Athletes Commit to Play College Sports

June 13, 2018

WARREN, NJ - Some 30 student athletes from the Watchung Hills Regional High School (WHRHS) Class of 2018 gathered  in the WHRHS Media Center for one last Warrior team photo before reporting to their intended respective colleges or universities in the fall.

Columbia, Yale and Princeton, Stevens, Rensselaer and M.I.T. are among some 27 other Division I, II, or III colleges ...

North Plainfield Board of Education Recognizes Student Athletes

NORTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - The North Plainfield Board of Education had the opportunity to celebrate the victories of the district's distinguished student athletes at the last Board of Education meeting.  Brandon Smith, Daniel Duncan, Trevor Sullivan, and Edgardo Villafane represented the Boys' Indoor Track Team.  The team was victorious as the New Jersey North II, Group II ...

Watchung’s Rizzi Ties Record at Rotary Track and Field Meet, North Plainfield Middle School Dominates in Awards Tally

PLAINFIELD, NJ - With an overcast sky and pleasantly cool temperatures, young student athletes from area middle schools and one elementary school gathered for the 91st Annual Rotary Track and Field Meet, held June 6 at the Hub Stine Athletic Complex in Plainfield.

Vincent Rizzi, holder of the Meet high jump records for boys ages 12 and 13, tried valiantly to best the 14 year old boys’ ...

North Plainfield Board of Education Recognizes 2018 Teachers of the Year

 

NORTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - North Plainfield School District's Teachers  of the Year were recognized at the Board of Education meeting on June 5, at West End School.  The evening began at 7:00 pm with a performance by the High School Jazz Band.  Opening remarks, made by  Human Resources Director, Phyllis Prestamo and Acting Superintendent ...

SCBP Biz Fest 2018 Draws Record Crowd

June 17, 2018

SOMERSET, NJ - More than 500 people attended Biz Fest 2018, Somerset County's ‘hyper-local’ trade show and networking event, on Thursday at the Imperia.

The Somerset County Business Partnership (SCBP) organized the event.  SCBP Vice President of Business Services Chris Edwards said that this year's Biz Fest was a huge success. 

"This has been ...

Update: Police Break Up Fight Involving 40-50 People at Bridgewater Commons Mall

BRIDGEWATER, NJ — No injuries have been reported in an incident that shut down Bridgewater Commons Mall Thursday evening after a fight involving a crowd of 40-50 people.

Police are still investigating unconfirmed reports of shots being fired, according to the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office.

The mall is closed for the evening as the investigation continues.

Somerset County ...