Hats off to the Harwood Union Middle and High School students who took to the stage in the school’s auditorium last weekend for the school’s inaugural TedX talk.

Props also go to their faculty adviser, Alex Rawson, who applied for Harwood to put on the talk, sought students to participate, worked with the students and other educators to develop their talks and then rehearsed with them and gave them tactics to deliver their impressive talks.

In terms of topics, the students picked their own and did not shy away from what might be considered uncomfortable topics. They covered bullying, stereotyping, depression, politics, voting rights, art as a learning style, art as therapy, math, eating disorders and more.

They did not shy away from the personal or the political or from poking fun at themselves. They spoke with insight and honestly, humor and sincerity.

In terms of delivery, they demonstrated grit, most of all. Some were more comfortable than others on the stage in the lights with the mic strapped on. But every one of them delivered.

Some were natural born storytellers who presented their talks straight from their hearts to their lips seamlessly. Others had to work at it, stopping to gather their thoughts or take a deep breath or a sip of water and a glance at their notes on a nearby table before they could continue.

But continue they did, clicking effortlessly through the PowerPoint slides that illustrated their topics, taking their time to say what they meant, displaying confidence and brio – even as their hands shook with nervousness. The coaching they’d received from Rawson and others was evident and it paid off.

Punctuated by a sincere and composed master of ceremonies, it was an impressive event, one that should give hope to those who are jaded about young people. These students offered compassion for one another and themselves, humor and a deep concern about the future, the planet and each other. They were articulate and demonstrated maturity and poise as well as depth of reasoning and communication that one might not expect from middle and high school students. But one should, based on the talks given by these local students.