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TEDxColumbus: Discovering the Corners of Our Community

Academy students and faculty attend 2018 TEDxColumbus. (Courtesy/Ruth Milligan)

On Friday, November 16, a small group of Academy students attended the 10th annual TEDxColumbus, held downtown at the Riffe Center’s Jo Ann Davidson theatre. Accompanied by Mr. Farrenkopf, Mr. Leet, and Mr. Olexio, the students heard fifteen different speeches, each talk being twenty minutes long.

This year’s theme, “On the Edge,” was interpreted in a variety of ways. Topics ranged from Automated External Defibrillator (AED) training in schools to the importance of bugs to avoiding deportation and a complicated surrogacy.

Different perspectives of the community were well-represented by this years’ speakers, including cardiologists, Dr. Naomi Kertesz and Dr. Jianjie Ma, computer programmer and teacher, James David Ramsey, natural photographer Danae Wolfe, economic and health analyst Trevon Logan, poets and performers Scott Woods and Sam Corlett, technologists Liv Gjestvang and Doug McCollough, and Ashton Colby, a YouTuber and yoga teacher for transgender youth.

While each speaker shared a unique perspective, Academy students were especially captivated by four individuals: social worker Ronald Murray, writer LC Johnson, pastor Joel Miller, and CEO of COSI Frederic Bertley.

Ronald Murray, a leader of the Ballroom community, talked about the “houses” and “ballrooms” in New York City that provide sanctuary to LGBTQ youth that have been renounced by their families. Feminist activist LC Johnson introduced the concept of “a fourth place,” which is a space for groups (based on gender, race, sexuality, etc.) to come together. Joel Miller, the pastor of Columbus Mennonite Church, told the story of speaker Edith Espinal, an undocumented immigrant seeking refuge in his church to avoid deportation by ICE. Scientist Frederic Bertley expressed the importance of science and the need for accessibility despite education standards.

This event was co-organized by Nancy Kramer, Chief Evangelist of IBM iX, and Academy parent, Ruth Milligan, Executive Speech Coach of Ms. Milligan and past TEDx speaker, Mr. Farrenkopf, who have collaborated on the project of bringing TEDx to CA, organized this student trip.

Not only does TEDx serve as an outlet for enjoyment, but it also informs attendees of the overlooked corners of our community.

Senior Mira Bhasin said, “TEDxColumbus is such an amazing experience because it really emphasizes the importance of community. At CA, we often emphasize the fact that we are a beloved community. But it is important to remember that we, as a school, are a smaller part of the Columbus community. We need to play our part in shaping Columbus.”

This series of talks also challenged the audience to recognize that people live within the Columbus community with very different lives from their own. It also gave students new tools to advocate for a new culture and mindset within our school, focused on innovation and improvement.

Mr. Farrenkopf said, “There’s just something about being in a room with people who have such a diversity of experiences and attitudes and views that it makes the community smaller and the world bigger.” 

For more information on the speakers, visit



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July 19, 2019