WESS Talks: Student Council’s Virtual Ted Talk Series

Over zoom on Wednesday, the Student Council hosted their first WESS Talks event, bringing its first project of the year to fruition. Modeled after Ted Talks, the project aims to educate the student body about a plethora of social issues. The first event featured a discussion about the role of race and racial injustice in education. The first WESS talk was presented by student council member William French, along with special guests from the NYCLU (New York Civil Liberties Union) youth program. They started with a presentation from a student about a social topic, and followed with a Q&A. 

The student council Ted Talk Committee consists of Student Council President Jackie Lovci, Junior William French, Junior Nicky Badagliacca, Sophomore Hunter Russell Horton.

Badagliacca proposed the idea to the student council back in September.

“Currently there are a lot of problems around racial inequity… and people are being treated unfairly and unequally,” Badagliacca said. “…I wanted to bring [these issues] to the student body so people could learn from experts in the field who actually really understand them.”

First and foremost, the goal of these talks is to educate students and motivate them to take ownership of their learning, and role as citizens.

“The WESS talks are about becoming an activist,” French said.

The first presentation was a huge success with over 30 participants filtering in and out of the call as well as students engaging with the speakers. 

“It was a really special occasion to have [guests from the NYCLU youth program], so I wanted to open up the conversion so the attendees could ask questions,” French said. “People asked some really great questions like ‘is there any important legislation about educational inequality that we need to know about today’, or there was someone else who was asking ‘how can I get involved and become more of an acistist,’ which were the kind of questions I was really happy to see.”

As for advice for getting involved to stand up against racial injustice in education, French has a few suggestions.

“My advice would be to educate yourself on these issues,” French said. “.. If you really want to get involved I say you should get involved with a youth activists program. There’s NYCLU… and other youth programs like Teens Take Change and Integrate NYC.”

The WESS student council hopes to continue this momentum into their next WESS talks in the coming weeks.

“It’s an ongoing project,” Lovci explained. “The goal is to create a space where students can talk about social issues in the context of our school. We realise that WESS is a community and there’s a lot of stuff that we’re losing over COVID because we can’t physically see each other, and we can’t physically have these discussions. And this is an era of huge social change… We really want to bring everything that is happening in the rest of the world and the community into WESS.”

To debrief with the rest of the school, the Student Council plans to send out a survey to get student feedback, including what types of topics students would like to learn about. The student council also wants to integrate as much of the WESS community as possible in their next WESS Talks.

“We’d really like to work with other clubs, and figure out how to include them in the conversion,” Lovci said. “We have the Social Justice club, the first People of Color Affinity club, and we had the ASL club a few years ago. We really want students who are connected to causes to be able to help communicate the purpose of these causes and their issues. We’ll also be reaching out student moderators, experts in different fields, and hopefully garner a larger audience for these discussions.”  

Please fill out the survey attached here to give some feedback to the student council. You can also watch the full video of the first WESS talk which is linked above.