• Hanna McLean

A Not-So-Normal ACAD Talks


Anannya Das speaks at the 2019 ACAD Talks. Photo by Kelley Cuneo.

Change is apparent and ongoing at school during this time, and it is not just classes that have had to improvise and adapt to the “new normal.” The annual ACAD Talks event has also taken on a new form this spring.

ACAD Talks was originally introduced by a student in 2017 who thought it was important for students to share what they were passionate about outside of the classroom. This spin-off TED Talks was a huge hit, and many students have wanted to see this event come back annually. This year, however, the event will be happening digitally.

Typically the presenters are ready and excited to come back from spring break and share what they have created. Their 10-15 minute presentations are performed in the Harrison Center and prompted with a simple slideshow and memorized script.

“It feels much more personal, and the presenters can thrive off of the energy in the room,” says Kate Towery, ACAD Talks sponsor. Towery has been the sponsor of ACAD Talks since 2017 and believes it is important each participant is able to express their passions to the community.

When news that the school would not meet on campus, Towery, the student leaders, and presenters made a group decision to turn ACAD Talks digital.

“It was definitely a different experience. I found that not having people reacting to what I was saying was challenging because I couldn’t gauge how my talk was affecting anyone,” says Anannya Das, a 2020 presenter. Anannya is a senior at Athens Academy and this will be her second year creating an ACAD Talk.

The typical 10-15 minute presentations turned into short 3-6 minute videos with visual powerpoints for guidance. Faced with this new format, each participant had to make important decisions about what information was necessary in their talk and what information could be removed. Not only that, but the presenters had to figure out how to best display their information to their invisible audience.

“It was great to finally have what I had been thinking about for months on video. It felt good to complete this project that had been pushed back time and again. I hope people enjoy the talk as much as I did when I was making it,” Das says.

Many faculty members are supportive of ACAD Talks as well. Teacher Mike Callinan’s advanced media production (AMP) class has also been working to publicize the event.

“I was very pleased about the encouragement from everyone. AMP’s help was much appreciated when creating trailers and Mrs. Zalac’s opinion was also very helpful,” Towery says..

The talks are a great way for the Athens Academy community to come together and see the hard work of these presenters. Some topics that will be covered are beauty standards, geology, and much more.

“I hate that these presenters were unable to show their work in front of people because their talks are very engaging and put together so well. I hate that they might have a smaller audience this year, and I hope people will watch the videos and give these students the encouragement and support they deserve,” Towery says.

Not only can the viewers learn about students’ passions, but they can do it with their family in the comfort of their own home, so tune in! The talks will officially air in the near future and can be found on Athens Academy’s ESpartan Page, accessible through the Athens Academy website.

©2017 by The Spartan Review