Spotlight of the Week: Eric Shagrin and Olivia Pettee

Tedx Club Co-Presidents


Courtesy of Eric Shagrin

Eric and Olivia have some fun before the Tedx event on March 1st.

This week, Type One reached out to junior Eric Shagrin and sophomore Olivia Pettee, Co-Presidents of the TEDx Club at Pine Crest.  On March 1st, students participated in TEDxPineCrestSchool, a popular event where students had the opportunity to give TED talks to the Upper School student body, faculty, parents, and even St. Andrew’s School’s TED-Ed Club.  This event allowed students to create presentations to share their ideas to others in an organized, unique fashion.


Type One: What was the theme for the TedX event this year and why did you decide to choose this theme?

Olivia Pettee: The theme for TEDxPineCrestSchool this was year was “Incipit.” An incipit, which is the beginning notes of a song or the first letter in a fairytale, signifies the start of a story. We chose that as the theme because the idea of a beginning is broad and all-encompassing; we all have to start somewhere.


T1: Did you give a TedX talk? If so, what did you speak about?

Eric Shagrin: I talked about overcoming the fear of argument or argument itself and turning it into productive dialogue where issues and beliefs are shared with the goal of empathizing.


T1: How has putting on this TedX event changed your outlook on the importance of these talks?

Pettee: This is the third TEDx event I’ve helped organize, and my first TEDxPineCrestSchool event I’ve ever been a part of. Part of what I love about the mission and the atmosphere of any TED event is that it stimulates curiosity and is a platform for discussion with like-minded individuals. This year was no exception, and even if students only got to see one talk, I truly believe that they got a new “nugget” of wisdom out of listening.

Shagrin: I recognize all of the work that goes into TED-Talk and the events. I have a greater appreciation for each talk I’ve seen (I love TED-Talks, so I’ve seen a lot). Also, it made me realize and believe in the power of sharing ideas: I believe there is extreme power in spreading ideas.


T1: Why did you originally get involved with this club and event?

Pettee: Since I was little I’ve loved stories, and essentially, that’s what the ethos of TED is: the power of sharing ideas. The first time I saw a TED Talk, I filled with the same child-like curiosity to learn more. It made me want to ask questions, to research, and to know more about the world I live in. I started the club to provide an opportunity for students to get to explore their ideas and share it on the TEDx stage. It’s such an empowering experience, for both the listener and for the speaker to be apart of the event. The best part is that no two talks are alike because no two stories are alike.

Shagrin: Olivia came and pitched me this idea and the second I heard TED I was in. I have a slight obsession with TED-Talks and I am really passionate about giving students platforms for sharing their beliefs. This club combines both of those.

T1: How did you decide which talks to include?

Pettee: The event was curated so that each of the talks or performances had a common thread running through them. Speakers were pooled from both Mr. Gillego’s Language and Composition Classes and the TED-Ed Club. The most important qualification for giving a talk is commitment. If the speaker was committed, truly passionate, and their idea was compelling, then we included their talk in the lineup. Though it was subtle, if you got a chance to see the event in its entirety you would get to experience talks ranging from feeding off the haters, from uncovering ancient languages, to saving coral reefs.

Shagrin: The TED-Incubator, an event where people pitched their ideas, gave us a bunch of talks we felt were solid. Eventually, around 4-7 people were willing to work on their talks and after workshopping those talks and adding a few more, the club contributed around 5 or 6 talks. The rest came from Mr. Gillego’s English Language class. Given this was the first year, most still came from his class. But, we were super excited about getting some talks from the club featured, and we believe everyone did an awesome job.


T1: What has been the most impactful part of putting on this event?

Pettee: The most impactful part of the event was providing a platform to share ideas. Also impact even extended beyond the Pine Crest community: viewers from all over the world watched our livestream. Being able to spark discussions and raise questions about topics students

care about is truly incredible, because it’s like a chain reaction of people feeding off of each other’s ideas.

Shagrin: I really loved the day of the event and listening to my peers share and listen to each other’s ideas. I think people offered new perspectives and ideas and  I am proud to have helped give them a platform to do that.

T1: What was the most successful part of the Pine Crest TedX talks?

Pettee: The reason the event this year was the best TED event yet is because the speakers we had give talks were strong, and in turn it brought a curious audience to come watch them. When one person comes and watches, eventually more decide they want to attend. We also had excellent coverage of our event on social media thanks to the social media team, which was led by Natalia Hauser. We even had a geofilter that students could use, which was another added aspect for our audience to interact with.

Shagrin: I think many of the speakers this year were incredible. There were a few that I was incredibly moved by and truly made me look at an issue with a whole new perspective. Those moments are what I think was the biggest success and I think the day had many.


T1: How can others get involved with future TedX events?

Pettee: Join the TED-Ed Club! We’re already starting to plan the event for next year, so if you would like help organize or want to give a talk, reach out to me at [email protected] or to Eric at [email protected]

Shagrin: We plan on getting started by the end of this year for those who would like to give a talk! Stay tuned and check Schoology for updates about the next TED-Incubator. Also, if you have an idea please contact Oliva and I; we really want to hear what you have to say.

Pettee’s and Shagrin’s efforts to organize and run this event clearly were worthwhile, for the TedX event is a favorite for the entire Upper School. We are excited to see how the TED-Ed Club will continue to host events such as this one to help expand the minds of all involved and those who are inspired by these talks each year.