By Chloe Chin
JED is Jamesville-DeWitt High School’s very own spin on TED, the global set of Technology, Entertainment, Design conferences that focus on technology and the media. Specifically, JED bases its principles in line with those of TEDx, a version of the annual TED conference that welcomes open discussion for anyone with an idea. Members of JED research an issue that they feel passionate about and present it to their peers and their club advisers, social studies teacher Donna Oppedisano, librarian Mary Panek and English teacher Courtney Romeiser.
Sophomore Gerry Wason has been a member of JED for two years. “I like talking about issues that I feel strongly about, that not everyone can agree with. There are a lot of places where you can’t express those thoughts,” says Wason. The topic Wason is currently working on for JED is called Pro-Life. “I’m Pro-Life! I’m pretty much trying to get scientific arguments to prove that the fetus is a living thing and how it is separate from the woman, so [in regards to abortion] it’s not just about the woman and her body, there is another human in existence that we are forgetting about,” she explains. Wason says that this year continues the tradition of good topics established last year. “I love how they all contrast and they’re all different,” she says
Senior AJ Suslovic got involved with JED because he like how it gives him an opportunity to share a topic that he’s passionate about with a large audience of people. “I see a lot of passionate activists that are all very vocal about what they are passionate about,” he says. Suslovic’s topic now is How Anime Isn’t As Niche As People Think. “Many people confuse it for being a genre, a defined set of things that are present in every work, but it is actually a medium, no one set of things, there are things that appeal to everyone.” Suslovic wanted to participate in JED last year, but didn’t have the time due to other clubs and organizations he was involved in.
Senior Elizabeth DiGennaro is a new member to JED Talks this year, but thinks “it gives students a unique opportunity to share their opinions.” Her topic is Why Classical Music Education Is Important. “I think that Classical Music Education is important because their are lots of scientific studies that show how it helps learning in the brain and can build communities,” says DiGennaro. DiGennaro thinks JED is important because it helps build students’ public speaking skills and helps them voice their interests in a well researched manner with their peers.”
Ms. Oppedisano says most JED participants are still in the development stage of their ideas. However, she says that the ideas “run the gamut” from personal enjoyment issues, like books and anime, all the way to deep societal issues like the foundation of our democracy. “Some of them are really fun, some are serious, some are really exciting but what they all have in common is that they will be presented in such a way that will get kids talking,” which, according to Ms. Oppedisano “is the promise of JED.”
“Last year was our first year, and we weren’t sure how it was going to go,” says Ms. Oppedisano. “We didn’t know how it was going to be received. It was quite a risk. When we saw the outcome that night, and we heard kids in the hallway talking about some of the issues being discussed, and teachers talking in class about some of the issues being discussed, we realized it had the potential to create the environment in which we can talk about ideas, isn’t that what the best education is about?”
JED Talks will be meeting each Wednesday in the library to develop students topics and prepare to present them officially. A promise of JED is that topics will be showcased in a live show style similar to that of ‘TEDx’ at the end of the semester, tickets available to all. If you or anyone you know are interested in joining JED, see Ms. Romeiser.