This spring Bellevue School District hosted the first annual SHOUT Experience at Bellevue College and nearly 400 students attended.

SHOUT, standing for Sistahs Having Outstanding Uniqueness Together, was designed for female students that racially identify as African, Black, Latina, Native American or a mix of any, who are in grades 7-12 in the Bellevue School District, although all students, no matter their racial background, were welcome.

SHOUT provided an opportunity for students to connect, be inspired, find support and be led and taught by women who racially identify like them.  This culturally relevant teaching and learning experience was generously supported by Bellevue Schools Foundation, Bellevue College and the City of Bellevue.

“I decided to attend SHOUT because I wanted to raise my voice and SHOUT to the world that girls of color are also important, and that we won’t let anyone discriminate because of their skin color, race or gender,” said Alondra Balderas-Garcia, an eighth grader at Odle.

The all-day event began with a keynote address by Nikkita Oliver, a local attorney and educator, focused on loving yourself, finding beauty within and being resilient.

Seventeen workshops were offered, following the keynote address, and students had the opportunity to attend two.  Topics for these included: Up Your Life Skills Game, Haida Roots, Microaggressions, Between Worlds and YES! This Girl Can Be In A STEM Field!

After the morning workshops concluded, middle school students departed for the day, while high schoolers attended an afternoon question and answer session.  The discussion was facilitated by the district’s Supervisor of Equity Krischanna Roberson and panelists included Seattle Central College’s Vice President of Student Service Yoshiko Harden, South Seattle College’s Program Manager for the Office of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Sol Mendez, local artist Sondra Segundo, and Oliver.  The conversation focused on questions related to race, gender and identity.

Students who attended the event were enthused by the experience and said they would encourage others to come in the future.

“It was an amazing experience and I learned so much in one day from women that looked like me,” said Interlake Freshman Aidah Hawkins.

Hawkins biggest takeaways from the day were that, “nothing will change until you stand up for yourself, women of color shouldn’t be looked down upon and be who you are and love yourself,” she said.

BOOM, a similar opportunity, was offered to male students in the district during the winter.

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.