BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — This week, more than 100 students in our area are preparing for a big event. They're going to take the stage in front of an audience of hundreds, sharing things that they're passionate about and having their voices heard.
"Teenagers are often the most important and often the most ignored generation. When we listen to them, you're hearing a voice that is going to become a leader," said Deborah Bertlesman, a 9th grade English teacher at Frederick Law Olmsted School at Kensington.
Students will present topics at the Youth Voices Conference, put on by the Center for English Teaching at Buffalo State.
"My students can make mini documentaries, podcasts, they can do spoken word pieces, they can do TED talks. They are given the opportunity to present what they care about most in the world in the way that makes the most sense to them," said Bertlesman.
Let's meet four of the students taking part:
- Chase Wood, 15
- Topic: Wrongful conviction of African Americans/Issues with the U.S. Justice System
- Presenting: Spoken word
- Inspiration: When They See Us on Netflix
- Future Goals: Becoming a civil rights lawyer in Alabama
- Quote: "Well we call it a justice system and it's more like a judgment place. I want people to understand that it can't continue to go on like this."
- Adnan Hossein, 14
- Topic: Benefits of online learning for those who can't afford post-secondary education
- Presenting: Slideshow
- Inspiration: Worrying about college and exploring topics online on his own
- Future goals: Computer science/machine learning
- Quote: "It's not something that should be forced upon people...it should be given to the masses and people who are open to it should do it."
- Aliela Mfuranzima, 14
- Topic: Assimilation in the context of immigration
- Presenting: Spoken word
- Inspiration: She's experienced issues as an immigrant herself
- Future goals: To be an Orthodontist
- Quote: "It's little things like mocking people's accents...all we're trying to do is make a better life for people."
- Olive Stasio, 14
- Topic: Culturally inclusive school lunches
- Presenting: TED Talk
- Inspiration: Eating lunch with friends who didn't have the food they needed
- Future goals: Biomedicine/Biochemistry
- Quote: "This now is a better opportunity to speak to more people. This can spark so many people talking about it."
The event takes place at Buffalo State from 4-8:30 on May 6, admission is free. Registration begins at 4.
"Not only giving students a chance to be heard, it's also powerful to see adults listening and that can be a rare thing sometimes," said Kristen Pastore-Capuana, Assistant Director of WNY Network of English Teachers.