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Clarksburg High School Student Organizes Impressive Speakers for TEDx Event

In the Spring of 2017, then Clarksburg High School junior Matthew Evenson had an idea. Evenson had always enjoyed watching TED Talks, the 18-minutes or less educational videos about a myriad number of topics which informed and entertained the viewer.

Evenson wanted to bring Ted Talks to Clarksburg High School for a full day event. To make this a reality, Evenson had to create a club at school. With the help of some friends and an academic sponsor, an English teacher, Evenson began the journey that would bring a Navy admiral, a news anchor, NIH scientist, a police chief, a Maryland Circuit Court judge, a pediatric physician and novelist, and an FBI counter-terrorism specialist to Clarksburg to speak to high school students.

On Thursday, January 11, Evenson and the Clarksburg High School TED Talks Club hosted Clarksburg TEDx Youth@ClarksburgHS = an independently organized TED event, which featured TED style talks by eight of the regional and nationally recognized experts in the field — NBC4 Washington’s Aaron Gilchrist, Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger, U.S. Navy Adrimal Forrest Faison, Surgeon General of the Navy; former Assistant Director of Counter Terrorism at the FBI John Giacalone, scientist Becca McPherson of the National Institute of Aging, pediatrician and novelist Nadia Hashimi, and Maryland Circuit Court Judge Margaret Schweitzer.

“I have always loved to procrastinate by watching TED Talks,” said Everson, who is now a senior at CHS. “Last Spring I began thinking that it would be cool if I could bring an event like this to Clarksburg. I did some research, and I decided the only way to do this was if I got some peers behind me. So, I started a club at Clarksburg High School called the TEDx Club which was specifically designed to facilitate this event.”

The event had eight speakers and was designed to coincide with class periods during the school day. Not all students saw all eight speakers, but over 60 Clarksburg teachers agreed to give up their class time and bring their classes to the auditorium to listen to a TED Talk.

Everson said the first step was to get approval from TED Talks to produce the event. “I put together an application. Once they approved it, it was ‘Go Time.’ I contacted a bunch of potential speakers and conversed with them over email, and eventually, speakers began to say yes, and it snowballed from there.”

He said the first speakers to say yes were relatives of students the TEDx Club at school. “The admiral is the father of one of our club members. And once we had someone of the stature of Admiral Faison the other speakers began to snowball because he is such a high profile speaker,” said Everson. He said that former FBI Assistant Director John Giacalone was also the father of TEDx Club member.