Click Here to Check out the 7 Tepees Youth Blog!
Maintained by a Seven Tepees senior, the youth blog is called 7 Voices and is a place where Seven Tepees youth participants can get updates on things happening in the Learning Center programs. It is updated weekly with information on upcoming trips and major events, birthdays, videos, pictures, and work that youth want to contribute to the website!
Sean Wilson Memorial
On July 11, 2011, 7 Tepees lost one of our shining stars when 20- year-old Sean Wilson, a 2009 graduate of 7 Tepees, was shot outside his Hayes Valley home in San Francisco.Â
After graduation, Sean worked at Abercrombie & Fitch to save money to add to his 7 Tepees’ scholarship so that he could start his college education. He also stayed connected to 7 Tepees, showing up at the Learning Center to mentor his younger brother A.J. and cousin Trey who are also a part of 7 Tepees. A.J. looked up to his big brother, "Sean was a good, loving person. He was always there for his family and friends and he was a good father”.
Sean was set to move to Los Angeles and begin college in September 2011 and was excited about making this next big step in life.Â
We love and miss him and ask that you help us not let his name and presence be forgotten. Sean left behind his young son Ta’Sean, 3 younger siblings, A.J., Terri Lynn and Cher’rell, as well as his cousin Trey, and mother Catina.
Elsa Ramos knows what it’s like to live in a tough neighborhood.Â Growing up near the intersection of 16th and Mission is not easy, especially when you’re sharing a one-bedroom apartment with a large family of eight.Â When her dad got sick and had to stop working, her family ran into money problems.Â To help, she found a job that would help her mom pay the bills and also opened a savings account.Â
Â Â Â Â When Elsa joined Seven Tepees along with two of her sisters, she was the shyest girl in the program.Â After participating in environmental trips, she made many new friends with both students and staff.Â From rock climbing to snowboarding, youth created a strong and family-like community by cooking, cleaning, and playing activities together. "This program taught me how to step out of my comfort zone and try new things. I remember on every field trip, the staff would tell us, 'Step up and step out of your comfort zone.' Now I am very open minded and willing to take risks. They helped me believe in myself and realize that anything is possible, and that is the most precious lesson in life," Elsa says.
Â Â Â Â One of the most important lessons she learned from Seven Tepees was how to give back.Â Today, she works as a middle school tutor at Seven Tepees and all the youth see her as a role model and leader. She is currently attending City College of San Francisco, and will be transferring to UC Santa Cruz next year.
Paving the Path to Success Through "College Now!"
Youth proudly raise their scholarship letters to City College of San Francisco.
SFUSD interviewed their high school counselors asking them what their dream College Program would be like. The two top responses were:
â¢ The program would work with ALL youth, not just the highest achievers who are already on track for college.
â¢ The program would be integrated with colleges and universities.
Seven Tepees College and Career Program meets both of these aspirations. Our unique âequity modelâ serves the entire school, expecting that all can succeed - those who are college bound as well as those who for whatever reason are not on track.
We provide grade appropriate services as well as school-wide programs aimed at creating a college-going culture. We offer intensive individual support to youth who are eligible for college, assisting with applications, financial aid, and parent education. Our program was designed in partnership with Rebecca Toporek, Professor in Masters of Career Counseling from San Francisco State. She is on sabbatical this year working with us to evaluate our progress and offer insight. Mariana Chavez, head counselor at John OâConnell High School states âSince Seven Tepees started the program, there has been more enthusiasm for college and more academic rigor across the school. Seven Tepees has made a big impact! In fact, weâve seen a 300% increase in the number of applications to four-year colleges.â
For those who are behind in credits, we offer âCollege NOW!,â a program in conjunction with the Mission Campus of City College. This program features an English writing course on the high school campus that is taught by a City College professor. The course allows youth who did not believe they could go to college the chance to actually experience college. It provides a credit recovery opportunity so they can graduate from high school on time. However, the main benefit of the program is the writing skills youth attain. The goal is to accelerate their writing so that they can test higher into City College without the requirement to take 1-5 perquisite English levels before starting English 1A.
An important part of College NOW! is the support of Seven Tepees tutors and youth development staff who facilitate counseling groups that bond these youth together and help them focus their efforts to transform their lives and pursue a higher education.
Carlota Del Portillo, Dean of Mission Campus, who co-designed the College NOW! Program as part of CCSFâs Homework Club, is excited to be working with us - âNo other program is doing the work to prepare students for success after high school like Seven Tepees.â
WAVES - 7 Tepees' Watershed Education Project
With the school board making cuts to every program offered to our cityâs students, from art classes to summer school, Seven Tepees worked diligently to fill this gap by ensuring a safe space that focused on academics, work internships, and creating lasting friendships for our youth.
This past summer, Seven Tepees partnered with the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and the Bay Institute to develop a new summer program called WAVES, or Watershed Advocacy Via Environmental Studies. Using a hands-on approach to science, 15 high school youth explored local watersheds and learned about plankton through youth-led outreach and stewardship activities.
Two weeks focused on intensive plankton studies where youth visited official research
pier facilities to analyze "plankton tows," collect crab pod specimens, and clean aquatic tanks. The next two weeks involved work internships where youth cared for marine invertebrates and created interactive displays. Backstage tours of the Aquarium of the Bay and the California Academy of Science gave an extra opportunity for youth to connect what they learned in the field, as well as talk to other marine biologists about their experience.
The last portion of the program took place at Six Rivers National Forest, where WAVES participants created community-building games and led tide pool exploration activities for middle school students during Seven Tepees' week-long camping trip. By facilitating the games themselves, students had the chance to share what they've learned from WAVES, in addition to instilling a peer modeling structure promoting leadership and teamwork.
Not only did students learn about the ocean, they also enjoyed building friendships with other youth and leading activities, some for the first time. With this growing confidence in each other, and themselves, Seven Tepees has had a great start to a new school year!
Winter Trips Create Bonds in the Snow
With all the pressures of homework and tests put aside, taking a trip to the snow offered plenty of excitement and enthusiasm for our high school youth.
Outdoor trips provide the essential opportunity for youth and staff to learn more about each other on a deeper, more personal level. This yearâs agenda emphasized building friendships within the group in an atmosphere conducive to connecting and sharing feelings. For instance, an activity called "Where Do I Stand?" called on the participants to take sides on political and social issues such as gay rights and abortion. The young people were encouraged to think critically about the world around them, express their ideas, and listen to and learn from their peers.
Assigned leadership roles emphasized the importance of stepping up to challenges and assuming greater responsibility. Youth leaders helped facilitate discussions and conduct activities, and they acted as conflict mediators when necessary. Several served as youth "soul managers" charged with keeping the energy flowing and encouraging a positive attitude.
Sledding races and snowball fights kept frostbite at bay while everyone enjoyed the fresh air and scenic beauty outdoors. Memorable moments indoors for youth and staff revolved around board games, charades, and musical chairs. The interactions were planned around positive energy and friendly competition, as part of the process of building trust.