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Locust Grove High School Students Inspire and Educate in TED-Ed Student Talks

HENRY COUNTY, GA – Eight exceptional students from Locust Grove High School’s Class of 2024 recently participated in TED-Ed Student Talks, combining their scholarship and passions in a first-of-its-kind event for the district.

TED Talks, which originated in Silicon Valley in the 1980s and have grown in popularity in the 2000s, feature prominent individuals exploring themes related to their research and expertise.

The TED-Ed Student Talks program is TED’s youth and education initiative that supports students in discovering, exploring, and presenting their ideas. It is also designed to empower youth to inspire their peers and community based on the belief that “powerful ideas, powerfully presented move us to feel something, to think differently, to take action.”

TED-Ed approved the Student Talks at LGHS, which is a first for Henry County Schools. The eight students emerged as finalists from an intraschool competition, delivering fully on the mission of TED.

Through impactful speeches, carefully crafted and rehearsed, they highlighted innovative ideas about topics related to global issues, civic engagement, education, engineering/STEM, health and wellness, service-learning, fine arts, and humanities/social sciences.

The presentations were as diverse as they were impactful and showcased the students’ knowledge and passion for their chosen subject and their ability to engage and educate an audience.

Attendees of the inaugural TED-Ed event on April 26 included family and community members and HCS staff. The students again presented their talks to the entire LGHS faculty following the conclusion of the school year on May 28.

The students forged a connection with the audience by incorporating personal experiences and enhanced the impact of their speeches through vivid portrayals.

Beyond the Classroom Walls: Uniting to End Student Homelessness

 Tina Tutuwan delved into the impact of student homelessness on student success. Her comprehensive presentation highlighted the different forms of homelessness and how educational programs and community outreach efforts can rewrite the story of student homelessness. Through activism and voluntary service, Tutuwan advocated for improved support systems so every child can have a safe place to learn, grow, and thrive.

Like Father, Like Son: The Pursuit of Belonging

Jaden Taylor chronicled how his father defied obstacles throughout his life to forge successful military and civilian careers. Taylor’s emotional presentation outlined how, like his father, he persevered to overcome several hurdles. Taylor’s story underscored how his participation in the TED-Ed talks reflected his family’s determination and refusal to surrender to any hindrance. His was a story of how experiences and traits that birthed feelings of inadequacy ultimately motivated father and son to succeed beyond what detractors – and even they – considered possible.

Fake vs. Real: How Can We Help Tomorrow’s Future with the Social Media Effect?

Bailey Collins highlighted the impact of social media on youth, citing its addictive nature and toll on mental health. Collins recounted how lure of social media impacted her educational journey. Following the lockdowns and shift to virtual learning resulting from the pandemic, Collins’ desire for belonging propelled her to deprioritize social media and embrace extracurricular activities. As in-person events resumed, she started working with children, helping them find healthy alternatives to social media. She emphasized the need to help youth abandon the fake online world and embrace real communities. 


Sam Romano’s “STEMpathy” was inspired by his long recovery from a painful soccer injury. What he described as his “first experience of STEM in everyday life” and “the light at the end of the tunnel” came from observing doctors and physical therapists collaborate to manage his recovery. Their support, guidance, and use of technology planted the seed, revealing how STEM and empathy can enhance patient care and healing. Romano communicated an eagerness to pursue college and career goals as he looks forward to combining his passion for technology and community service to fully realize his vision of STEMpathy.

Garden of Ivies

Yasmine Glasgow took the audience on her figurative journey of self-discovery. Presenting her life as scenes in a film, Glasgow led attendees through her stages of navigating mental health challenges, peer relationships, self-acceptance, and maintaining self-imposed boundaries. “Garden of Ivies” is a play upon words, likening aspects of her life to an ivy plant drawing nourishment from various experiences. The character Ivy experiences a series of growing pains while weaving her way through the twists and turns of adolescence, ultimately gaining the maturity to attribute these events to life lessons.

Capturing Ladybugs: The Transformative Power of Belief

Logan Seigle emphatically conveyed her passion for working with special needs students, detailing how serving that community helped her manage loneliness and other emotions that surfaced during the pandemic. For Seigle, believing in and supporting others was a catalyst for self-discovery. She outlined how encouraging others can have a positive impact and instill a sense of purpose. Seigle stressed the need for inclusive school environments where students with disabilities can access the complete school experience, including extracurricular activities. She proposed equitable education and implored administrators to develop a holistic learning environment for every child.

Why Should I Care About Fine Arts Anyway?

Madilynn Reike presented an impassioned stance on the importance of fine arts and theatre programs. She described how the theatre experience boosts confidence and hones speaking skills and stage presentation. Reike presented strong arguments for fine arts programs, asserting that her years in the theatre benefited her in many ways that contributed to her TED-Ed Talk experience. Citing enhanced academic and career outcomes, Reike implored schools to invest in and promote the fine arts as part of a well-rounded education. She aimed to change perceptions about the arts and highlight their cognitive, behavioral, and social benefits and value in increasing school engagement. 

A Seat at the Table: Fostering Success for Non-English Speakers

Bryan Diaz De La Cruz introduced himself and his topic after an approximately 35-second opening monologue in Spanish. Using this strategy, he effectively communicated how language barriers can create a sense of ostracism and isolation. The technique was designed to help the audience understand the disconnect non-English speaking students feel in seeking to assimilate into an American school setting. He expressed his support for policies that address the barriers these students face as they try to learn a new language. 

Each student spoke for approximately 10 minutes and included a call-to-action, appealing to the audience to play active roles in addressing the issues within their communities.

“Students have a powerful voice, and our responsibility as educators is to help them channel that voice appropriately,” said LGHS Principal Tony Townsend. “Our ‘True Blue’ mission speaks to elevating students’ passions and focuses them on going beyond what they thought possible, which we accomplished through this event. The TED-Ed Talks celebrated their entire K-12 student experience through Henry County Schools.”

“I was impressed and inspired watching the students address these critical topics with poise and conviction,” said Interim Superintendent Dr. Carl Knowlton. “Each delivered a creative and thought-provoking presentation, engaged the audience with their unique perspectives, and proposed solutions to contemporary challenges. Their sense of civic responsibility, dedication, and the exceptional quality of their presentations made us all proud and highlights the breadth of talent and commitment to learning in Henry County Schools.”

Watch the LGHS TED-Ed Student Talks on YouTube. 

About Henry County Schools

Henry County Schools (HCS) is the eighth-largest school district in Georgia, consisting of 52 schools, including two academies, located about 20 minutes south of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Over the past 20 years, our community has grown in population from 113,000 residents to over 244,000 residents. Since 1999, student enrollment has grown from 21,000 to 43,000 students, and our number of employees has grown from 3,000 to 6,000.

HCS is “In Pursuit of Exceptional,” taking action to advance opportunities, access, and outcomes so that every student in our school district has Exceptional Support, Exceptional Access, and an Exceptional Future. In 2020, our Board of Education adopted our 2021-2026 Community-Inspired Strategic Plan and laid out a clear vision and mission for Henry County Schools. Our vision is to ensure a high-quality, world-class education for every student, and our mission is to empower all students with exceptional opportunities and access that lead to success in a global society.