Three students, on stage at the 2018 The BOOM Experience event

On Dec. 11 more than 300 students gathered at Bellevue College for Bellevue School District’s fourth annual BOOM (Breaking Out Of the Margins) event.

“Today is an opportunity for students to see themselves as leaders,” said Equity Specialist Christian Paige.

The all-day event was designed for male students that racially identify as African, Black, Hispanic, LatinX, Native American, Southeast Asian, Pacific Islander or who are bi- or multi-racial and are in grades 7-12 in BSD. Although all students, no matter their racial background, were welcome to attend.

Students had the opportunity to hear from and engage with a variety of speakers who racially identify like them.

Superintendent Dr. Ivan Duran addressed students and framed the day around the district’s vision to affirm and inspire each and every student. He told students this was their day and to “do whatever it takes for you to find success.”

Equity Specialist John Eklof echoed Duran’s sentiments and said, “You’re the future leaders. You’ve got greatness inside of you.”

Before moving from the welcome events to the keynote speaker Sammamish senior Dylan Contreras led the group in the event’s annual chant, “I’m your brother. You’re my brother. Together as brothers, we cause a BOOM!”

Reflecting on the event mid-day, International School eighth grader Noah Garcia said he was excited to attend the sessions and hear from the speakers. Garcia attended BOOM for the first-time last year and said that the event inspires him and shows him that he can do great things.

Garcia, along with other middle schoolers heard a keynote address from award-winning empowerment comedian Ernie G., while high schoolers listened to keynote Dr. David Stovall, a professor from University of Illinois, Chicago.

Immediately following the keynote speakers, students attended workshop sessions, which had topics varying from Growing Through Relationships to What is My Why?

Sammamish graduate Sergio Garcia Perez presented one of the 15 workshop sessions and his was titled How to get the SAUCE, which focused on self-love.

“I’m just here to spread back the wisdom that I’ve gotten through Bellevue School District,” he said. Garcia Perez attended elementary, middle and high school in BSD and attended BOOM for the first time as a junior. He is now a freshman at Pacific Lutheran University.

“Living in Bellevue my whole life and moving out and being in another space at PLU, that really taught me a lot,” Garcia Perez said. “I’m coming back letting all these kids know there’s a whole world in front of them, especially being here in Bellevue – they can really do anything. The world is at their fingertips.”

The BOOM Experience was generously supported by Bellevue Schools Foundation, Bellevue College, Bellevue College Foundation, and a grant from Best Starts for Kids. A similar opportunity, SHOUT will be offered to female students in the district this spring.