BOTHELL — Deepthi Chandra has been setting an example for North Creek High, months before the brand new school prepares to welcome its first students this fall.
The incoming sophomore finished classes at Northshore Junior High School in June. The 15-year-old has a passion for STEM subjects — science, technology, engineering and mathematics. She keeps busy with Science Olympiad, Future Business Leaders of America, tennis, violin and piano.
Over the past year, Deepthi arranged a TED talk for her peers, going through a nine-month process of licensing and preparation. The June 14 event at North Creek’s commons building followed the same format as the talks aimed at moving adult professionals to accomplish great things. It pulled together short, motivating speeches from educators, students and a video-game sound designer, with a violin performance during the intermission.
Question: How are you feeling about North Creek?
Answer: I’m really excited. Originally, I was probably going to go to Inglemoor High School … I decided to come here because it was really close. I thought it would be a really cool opportunity since this is a new school.
Q: What’s the appeal?
A: Mr. McDowell (Eric McDowell, the principal) talks a lot about how we have to encourage open-mindedness, collaboration and creative out-of-the-box thinking. If you go around the school, you can see environmental signs and things like that. I like what the school stands for in terms of building ideals.
Q: As one of North Creek’s first students, you have an extra responsibility?
A: The new students have a lot of potential to shape this new school and to leave a legacy by starting clubs or doing programs.
Q: A youth TED talk? What gave you that idea?
A: I really love TED talks in general and I had a couple of friends who talked at TEDxRedmond. They visited me and I watched them and it was really inspirational. I applied for a license. I just had a passion and I went through with it.
Q: How did you choose the speakers?
A: I first tried to find local people, people in our school district like Mr. McDowell and the superintendent as well as students at the high school and the junior high … Then I wanted to have someone with prior experience with TEDx. I looked at people from TEDxSeattle. That’s how we found Mr. Thakkar (Akash Thakkar, a composer and sound designer), who was our sixth speaker.
Q: How did it go?
A: I think there were more than 200 people who came. It went really smoothly. A lot of the talks, I hadn’t actually seen them live. I had only read through them. It felt more inspirational seeing them performed … I felt like a lot of people really liked it because it wasn’t a conventional community-speaking event. We tried to make it really interesting and inspirational and not just PowerPoints with bullet points.
Q: Did your family help?
A: They’ve kind of been like my team members. They were a huge part of setting up. On the day of the actual event, I was really nervous about talking. So they set up the chairs and all of the refreshments and everything. They took care of that. They (wanted me to) focus on coordinating all of the speakers.
Q: Who’s in your family?
A: My mom and dad and my 9-year-old brother, Venkatram.
Q: What do you like to do outside of school?
A: I really like science. I spend a lot of time doing Science Olympiad. We go to national competitions … There’s a team of 15 students. And there’s about 20 or 25 events. Examples of things I’ve done is maybe study ecology. Or another event would be food science where you’d have to do lab tests and build a device that measures how much energy is in certain food products. A person on this team would maybe do three to five events. You compete at regionals and then state and then nationals. It’s as a team whether you move on, but you have individual rankings within the events.
Q: How do you unplug?
A: I really love reading. On a summer evening, you can probably find me at Barnes &Noble reading books there. I like to read a lot of fantasy, adventure-type novels.
Q: Any summer plans?
A: I think researching or learning new things. It’s a lot of free time that I could invest in trying something new or learning a new topic.
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