In mid-December Bellevue School District hosted the second annual BOOM Experience at Bellevue College attended by nearly 300 students.  The event was designed for male students that racially identify as African, Black, Latino, Native American or mix of any, who are in grades 7-12 in the Bellevue School District, although all students, no matter their racial background, were welcome to attend.

BOOM provided an opportunity for students to connect, be inspired, find support and be led and taught by men who racially identify like them.

“Last year I thought it was pretty dope so I decided to come back for the experiences,” said Giancarlo Palomares, a junior at Interlake.

The all-day event began with a keynote presentation titled “No More Excuses.”  Robert Jackson, a national consultant, delivered the address and asked students how many of them want to be athletes, and many hands were raised.  Then he asked how many of them ran this morning; no hands were raised.  He used this example to show students the need for hard work and dedication to achieve their goals.  Jackson also emphasized the importance of confronting the casual excuses that have become acceptable while encouraging boys to challenge stereotypes that exist for Black, Latino and Native Americans.

Next students attended a variety of workshops including: Who Am I & Who Are We, Path to Greatness, My Voice. My Life. My Future., and Breaking Barriers Together.  Each workshop allowed students to engage and discuss race, culture, leadership and empowerment.

Middle school students concluded the day after the workshops, while high school students attended a panel, Hit the QUAN (Question, Understand, Answer and take Note), facilitated by Aaron Reader, Director of Multicultural Services at Bellevue College.  Students heard from Jackson, along with BSD Equity Specialist Christian Paige, Highline Community College Director of Community Engagement Services Rashad Norris and Chase Bank Business Relationship Manager Christian Servantes.  Questions ranged from ‘what advice would you give students’ to ‘what barriers did you face in school and how did did you overcome them to reach success?’

After the event concluded students thanked the speakers and were grateful for the day.

Bellevue High senior Lloyd Onana, said his favorite part of the day was the speakers.  “I related to what they were saying, and it really touched me,” he said.  “It was very fruitful.”

Post-event Palomares said, “I would definitely encourage others to come because it would just help them with their future.”

A similar opportunity, SHOUT will be offered to female students in the district this March.

The Bellevue School District acknowledges that we learn, work, live and gather on the Indigenous Land of the Coast Salish peoples, specifically the Duwamish and Snoqualmie Tribes. We thank these caretakers of this land, who have lived and continue to live here, since time immemorial.