Upper School Choice - chess

Transformative day of TEDx talks starring students, staff and parents

11th February 19

ted x group photo

On Saturday The Phoenix Theatre was taken over by 21 inspirational speakers from within the KAS community. Staff, students, parents and guest speakers took to the stage, many for the first time, to tell personal stories, make passionate pleas and bring lesser known viewpoints to life in 10 minutes or less.

The TEDx speakers with organiser Kara Conti (centre) and Head, Robert Lobatto (on the right)The TEDxKingAlfredSchool theme was ‘Transformations’ and the interpretations of the theme were varied and fascinating. With support from organiser Kara Conti (President of the KAS Society), Areta Hautman, Sheila Hanlon and Tracy Preston, the speakers had spent weeks honing their speeches, but there were still nerves on the big day.

Thanks to the Estates team, The Phoenix Theatre was resplendent with a circular red carpet for the speakers to anchor themselves to, and a millimetre perfect 3D sign made by DT technician Dom Callaghan. Technical Manager Matt Cargill took the controls for a seamless day.

Head Robert Lobatto hosted the day.One of the stand-out talks saw Sixth Form student Tara talk about how the King Alfred School culture of using teacher’s first names, has positively transformed her experience of education.

With students making up a third of the speakers, the event highlights the success of The King Alfred School philosophy. By providing an environment, and support, which allows pupils to develop their own strengths, looking at what is right for each individual child and allowing them to take ownership of their own learning, we nurture creative, curious and engaged students who are confident enough to talk about tough subjects. Speaking about anxiety, autism, storytelling, the true value of gap year volunteering and cryptocurrencies, the students shone brightly.

Speakers Charlotte-Lily, Phil, Claire and Georgina look relieved once their talks were done.

Other speakers included: Roc Sandford who spends part of the year living on a remote Hebridean island with no cars, doctor or school; Dr Fiona Starr, a psychologist who lost her husband to suicide talking about resilience; Phil Stuart, a games designer on the positive power of screen time and a spoken word poem on the transformative power of pain from Head of Estates, Zah Rasul which captivated the audience. 

Drama teacher and manager of The Phoenix, Rob Messik, surprised everyone with a confetti cannon at the end of his speech which sent the audience leaping out of there seats. Of course, someone had to clear up the mess and he grabbed a broom while everyone took a break for lunch.

Rob Messik sweeps upKASS and The King Alfred School are passionate about creating new opportunities like this one. Head Robert Lobatto said:

“At The King Alfred School we have such talented students, staff and parents, so it has been amazing to get them to share their wisdom and insight with each other and with us. TEDxKingAlfredSchool has been a wonderful day and it’s been incredible to hear so many talks which demonstrate the value of our educational philosophy. Every speaker has had to search deep inside themselves to prepare – it is no easy feat to lay yourself bare before an audience – even the warm, loving and receptive audience we had. I take my hat off to each and every one of them.”

Organiser Kara said “It’s been wonderful, it went better than I dared hope in my wildest dreams and I feel exhausted! I’ve been living through every single moment of every talk and I feel incredibly proud of all the speakers. We all feel a lot braver than we ever were before.”

The day was hugely enjoyable for the packed audience who all left with much to think about. Lower School staff member Kim Oliff summed it up when she said, “I’m left feeling deeply impassioned and humbled to have been lead on a transformational journey by this group of inspiring and brave humans.”

A list of links to the talks from TEDxKingAlfredSchool will be available soon.

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