Manual students held the first JCPS IdeaFestival, an event aiming to promote creativity and curiosity through presentations about various topics, at Gheens Academy on April 18.
Modeled after the international IdeaFestival held in Louisville each fall, JCPS IdeaFestival began as a Manual-centric endeavor organized by former student Matthew Perry. This is the first year that the program has been opened to other Jefferson County students, teachers, and administrators.
Lekha Devara (11, MST), JingJing Xiao (12, MST), and Madison Lindsay (12, VA) served as the student leads and mistresses of ceremonies for the event.
“As the student production team, our job was to review presentations, select presentations, generate and develop the full day of events from these student submissions, assess student interest in this event, and finally send out this information so interested and deserving students have the opportunity to attend,” Xiao said. “This involved extraordinary teamwork. I was fortunate to serve with a team of dedicated individuals including but not limited to JCPS, the IdeaFestival, and IFManual alumni and parents.”
Jahne Brown (10, J&C) talked as a student presenter about representation of women of color in today’s media. “I’m so surprised at all of the feedback I’ve been getting,” she said. “Ever since the IdeaFestival, I’ve been getting non-stop DMs and emails from kids telling me how much my presentation meant to them. It’s the best feeling in the world knowing that I made a difference and that my thoughts and opinions actually matter.”
Harsha Paladugu (9, MST) spoke about the power of big data and its relation to art. “It was an enlightening experience,” he said. “I think that I probably achieved 90% of what I wanted to with the presentation. There were a lot of pauses and stuttering, but I’m okay with that because it was my first time speaking in front of such a large crowd. If given the opportunity, I would love to participate next year.”
Other talks included Matthew Rivera (12, YPAS) and Evan Sennett’s (11, YPAS) presentation about cinema, Adam Khayat (11, MST) and Nadia Almasalkhi’s (12, MST) presentation about the Syrian revolution, and presentations by all of the finalists in the JCPS Schools of Innovation Challenge.
In addition, Representative John Yarmuth, Mayor Greg Fischer, and JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens gave opening remarks.
Avani Kabra (10, MST) enjoyed the opportunity to attend the event. “It was really nice to see that people from our county have the chance to share their interests, ideas, and experiences with others,” she said. “I learned a lot from what the students talked about and thought the whole expeirence was very engaging.”