Students from High Tech High School – a countywide public school based in North Bergen — showcased a performance called “The High Tech Talk Show: Start the Conversation” on March 24, followed by a question-and-answer session at the Blackbox Theater in High Tech.
The show was completely written, directed, and performed by High Tech High School students, primarily to highlight the support services available to freshmen students at the school. The assembly addressed board policies on bullying and fostering a positive culture at the high school.
The original idea of the show was thought of by High Tech Senior and Weehawken resident Emory Kemph. She began facing difficulties dealing with anxiety during her sophomore year in high school.
In her junior year at High Tech, Kemph realized that her struggles were not unique to her, and that many students must be experiencing many of the same challenges as she did.
“It is truly amazing, the level of empathy that Emory has developed at such a young age,” said Hudson County Schools of Technology Superintendent Frank Gargiulo. “To be able to go through a trying period in her life, and use that to help younger students is commendable.”
According to Kemph, she knew that bullying was not the only issue that students dealt with, and that the worries and concerns students faced expanded into many areas of their lives. She had a great support system but also understood that this was not the norm for many other high school students, and wanted to make a difference for them.
Inspired by college productions
Drawing inspiration from mental wellness and bullying productions at colleges around the country, as well as using theatre, which she has been involved with for years, Emory came up with the idea for this show.
“Start the Conversation,” was an entirely original production that Kemph hopes will help normalize the issues that high schoolers often face, and promote mental health services at High Tech High School.
“Due to Emory’s creative efforts, this show will make it easier for students to ask for help if they need it in the future,” said High Tech High School Principal Joseph Giammarella.
The show was embraced by the school administration and was originally performed by students from the Peer Leadership Club for all the freshmen at High tech High School on Feb. 5. The show is a series of vignettes that highlight common student challenges of romance, challenging academics, peer pressure, insecurity, bullying, and loneliness.