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Students in The Spotlight As MHS Features ‘Truth Talks’

Tasnim Rahman was afraid of public speaking.

But she summoned the courage to audition for the chance to give a speech as part of the MHS “Truth Talks” program.

And her topic, fittingly enough, was her fear of public speaking.

“I was nervous at first,” Tasmin, a sophomore, said Wednesday, moments after she delivered in an eloquent, thoughtful, impressive speech in front of a rapt audience of more than 100 staff and students. “But when I started I saw people that were smiling at me, or giving me a thumbs up.”

Tasmin was one of seven speakers and five performers who appeared during Wednesday’s conference, which was organized by teacher Parag Joshi and UConn intern Sarah Falcetti.

The event was designed to “give real power to speakers, performers and audience members alike,” according to Joshi, and to “start a conversation about humanity and what being human means to each person.”

For the past two years, MHS has had similar versions aligned with the TEDx franchise, but this year’s event was done independently to allow for broader student participation.

(Last year, most of the participants were adults and everyone had to be vetted in advance by TEDx officials. One performer -- magician Brian Miller of Vernon -- was so captivating that his presentation has been viewed 1,574,744 times and counting on YouTube.)

Other speakers Wednesday were Dante Mauriello, Kamara Olen, Tyson Murphy, Shakeem Williams, Max Maggiore and Rubaiya Sultana. Performers included Aakib Shaikh, Maisha Seraj, Maggie Smith, Brian Michaud and teacher Justis Lopez.

Joshi said that all of the speeches and performances from Wednesday will be posted on YouTube in a few weeks. He added that he is especially proud because students were involved in every phase of event, from conception and organization through execution.

“This was really all about the students,” he said..

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