“Sammamish Leads is a really good experience because it lets us work on industry projects, some of them that are going on right at our school,” said Holly Patel, a senior who participated in Leads the past four summers.  “It makes problems that seem really difficult at first more approachable.”

A summer program designed for rising 9-12th graders from Sammamish, Interlake and Big Picture, Sammamish Leads gives students the opportunity to work with industry partners and agencies, and tasks them with completing a real world challenge.  Students have seven days to create a solution and give a presentation to the industry partner.  This summer students will work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, City of Bellevue, Foundry 10, Integrus Architecture, MonoMyth Theatre, and the University of Washington.

“The purpose of Leads is to give students exposure to possible careers and skills to help them get ready for college and/or careers,” said Kim Herzog, Leads program coordinator and Sammamish High School science teacher.

Patel is grateful for her time in Leads.  “I would encourage all students to participate even if you’re not sure you want to go into a certain field,” she said.  “It’s good to just experiment.”

During her four summers at Leads, Patel had her share of experimenting with a variety of challenges.  Her first summer she worked with Valve Software to make video games to teach geometry concepts in schools.  The next year she partnered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to plan out distribution of a malaria vaccine in Tanzania.  The summer before her junior year Patel’s team collaborated with Integrus Architecture, the firm that designed Sammamish High School, to design and create a model of the school’s new hot glass studio.  Last summer Patel worked with the City of Bellevue to redesign an area near Bellevue College, which city planners are currently working on now.  Patel and her team members were able to provide their input and insights.

Patel, who plans to major in computer science, believes her time in Leads gave her invaluable experience.

“A lot of computer science involves creative thinking and problem solving,” she said.  “All the challenges I did in Leads gave me a chance to develop and practice those problem solving skills.  I feel that the process of problem solving is something I am going to repeat in my career as a computer scientist.”

Sammamish freshman Benja Cook participated in Leads last summer also and said he chose to do so because he wanted to meet more people since he was coming from private school.  Cook worked with the City of Bellevue to plan services, buildings and housing in a section of Bellevue.

“I liked the real world application,” said Cook.  “I think it’s a great way to meet new people and also there might be some career connections there.”

Sammamish Leads is generously supported by the Bellevue Schools Foundation.  This year the Foundation received the 2017 Bill Henningsgaard Fund for Children grant from Eastside Pathways that will be used to provide ten scholarships for Sammamish Leads.  The focus for this year’s grant was ‘Transitions – Grades 8 to 9 and 12 to College,’ an area Leads also concentrates on.

“We want to give students skills that they can apply across all subject levels all year long,” said Herzog.  “Sometimes we call Sammamish Leads Project Based Learning (PBL) on steroids.  It’s concentrated problem solving.  In our classrooms when we do PBL we have to include our content determined by state or national standards.  Sometimes the PBL has to work around the standards, but during Leads PBL is all you think about.  It’s very intense collaboration.”

This summer Sammamish Leads will be held from August 15-23.  If you’re interested in attending, please register by August 1.  Students who submit their application before the last day of school on June 27 will be given priority to select their preferred challenge.  If the program is filled to capacity, students that would be first in their family to go to college are given priority.

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.