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April 10, 2017
Expect 'aha' moments at TEDxBranksomeHall
Great ideas carry profound weight, and someone who knows this well is Grade 12 student Emma Lozhkin. After attending a TEDx event in Toronto two years ago, she was so moved by the lineup of speakers—TED talks are designed to pass on "aha" ideas that change the world—she wanted to produce a similar experience for Branksome students. "TED talks bring together really diverse speakers. I wanted our girls to have that experience."

But little did Emma know what would be involved in bringing one of the most respected speaker-series brands to Branksome this April 22.

First, she asked friend and classmate Alison Dudu to lend a hand, and spent much of the summer of 2016 meeting with Branksome administrators over logistics. Then, she and Alison researched a theme and applied for the license; they were stunned to be rejected. "It was really disheartening after all the work we did," says Lozhkin.

It was also a bit of a nail-biter: Lozhkin needed to manage an event in order to receive her IB CAS (creativity, activity and service) credit, but reapplying for a license would push the event close to her graduation and make finding a replacement event that much tougher. "She could have done a bake sale and it would have been over by now," jokes Dudu.

But both girls weren't about to be satisfied with a bake sale. Instead, they went back to the drawing board and redrafted their TED proposal. This time they came up with a theme that integrates their two passions, Lozhkin's love of technology and Dudu's passion for social science—The Impact of Accelerated Evolution. They reapplied to TED and waited patiently (well, kind of).

"I was in French class when I got the email from TED that said 'Congratulations'. I had to wait out the last 10 minutes before I ran out, found Alison and practically jumped in her arms!"

But the hard work was just beginning: the two immediately set about finding a stellar lineup speakers, which currently features Branksome alumna and IMAX filmmaker, Toni Myers; activist, photographer and director Danielle Da Silva; and fellow Branksome Grade 12 student Alex Philip-Reeves, founder of a fast-growing health social platform, EmojiHealth.

"The biggest surprise was how much consideration goes into this," says Dudu. The pair started with two volunteers; they now rely on a team of eight to help manage everything from production, lighting and staging, to marketing and promotion. Their hard work will soon pay off.

"I can't wait to meet all the speakers and I'm looking forward to backstage conversations and hearing about their lives and how I can take learning to help me reach my goals," says Lozhkin.

One short-term goal is that each one of the attendees—100 tickets are being sold on a first-come, first-served basis —takes away something profound that helps spark a great idea that they someday share with the world.

TEDxBranksomeHall runs from 3:00 – 9:00 p.m. on April 22 in the Allison Roach Performing Arts Centre (PAC.) For those unable to attend, the event will be streamed live on There will also be a viewing party in the Athletics and Wellness Centre—pre-registration is required.

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