Presenters Showcase Passions from Calmness to Careers


Photo Courtesy of Toni Smith

Chelsea Smith, daughter of math teacher Toni Smith, is a friend of Joey King and was also a child actress from a young age.

Jenny Won, Assistant A&E Editor

As the fourth annual Passion Day approaches on Feb. 21, student and teacher speakers alike are preparing to share the topics and interests that shape their identities. With 46% of speakers being student speakers, the largest proportion in the history of the event, this year’s Passion Day will provide opportunities for students to explore new interests or to delve more deeply into their own passions. 

Presentations such as that of actress Joey King will focus on a specific career path. King, who was invited by math teacher Toni Smith, will discuss King’s career as an actress and what she has learned from her years in the industry.

“[Acting] is not always easy; not everyone gets a free ride, and there’s a lot of things behind the scenes that people don’t even know,” Smith said. “But this was what [King] wanted to do. She followed her dream, and that’s why I thought she was ideal to come to Passion Day.”

Guest speakers such as King will offer a fresh perspective on atypical pathways after high school and college that students may not have considered. 

With a new freshman class, 61 students will be presenting, a large increase from 31 out of 86 last year. The unique experience of teaching what they love to their peers and the new perspectives it offers have attracted more student speakers this year than ever before.

“My lesson this year is with Kayla Espiritu, and we’re each teaching two dances that we’ve been working a lot on,” junior Chloe Le said. “I wanted to be a presenter this year not only because it is super cool to see people learning from you and see them go through the same process that you once did, but it also allows you to think more critically about the details in your own work.”

Some presentations are designed to help students relax and take their minds off of their busy academic lives, such as that of social studies teacher Emily Sheridan. Her presentation will guide students through the practice of mindfulness, a state of mental awareness, to help students destress and focus on the present moment. 

“When I practice mindfulness, I find more joy in everyday moments,” Sheridan said. “I am continuously amazed at how such simple strategies could have such a huge impact on my life; I would love to pass on these strategies to our Portola community.”

Whether it be about mindfulness, acting or dance, the presenters this upcoming Passion Day hope to leave all participants with a memorable experience and a fresh perspective on the things that they love.

“The message is to follow whatever makes you intrinsically happy,” Smith said. “As long as you’re passionate about it and loving what you’re doing, you can’t ask for anything better than that.”