The growth of community

Haylee Huynh, Staff Reporter

English Language Development (ELD) students and Associated Student Body (ASB) students have developed a relationship within the Sequoia community that has been in existence for almost a decade, yet rarely heard about on campus. 

Spanning over the past 12 years, a collaborative partnership between the two communities has existed in some capacity, but as of late, bonds have been more concrete and continue to thrive. 

“A system has existed for a long time. Where we’re at now is a product of years of […] just tweaking and honing and stuff like that. So the program kind of reshapes every year,” Student Activities Director Corey Uhalde said. 

The activities are “set up […] so that students have the language to express themselves and feel confident,” ELD and English teacher Stacy Wenzel said. 

ELD students and ASB officers recently came together for an activity based around the topic of having fun without spending a lot of money on Friday, April 15. Students rotated and shared slideshow presentations regarding the topic, and then went outside and participated in field games like spikeball and soccer. 

“I liked learning about all the different activities that people were showing like American football and surfing that were fun to hear about and try,” freshman ELD student Osman Cruz said. 

The activity was also an opportunity for students to practice their English and speaking skills.

“What was really fun about Friday was that we practiced our English and did an activity with the reading, but we also got to go outside,” freshman ELD student Jason Villanueva said.

ELD students also shared about their backgrounds during these presentations, and bonds were strengthened even further between the two communities with this new level of familiarity. 

“I really liked just learning about where they came from,” sophomore and ASB officer Tessa Folan said. “There were a lot of great places, some from Guatemala, some from Mexico, and they shared places that were special to them in those areas.”

Others enjoyed the casual setting of the activities, finding it a comfortable space to get to know each other. 

“It was a good way to interact with them in a normal way and we were able to have conversations. It was just a chill environment that we could hang out in and be friends,” sophomore and ASB officer Claire Dulsky said.

Initially, the planning of these events this year was facilitated by the English as a Second Language (ESL) Outreach Committee, which is a sub-group of ASB. But collaboration with ELD students has been incorporated in the planning  aspect of these events as well.

“[ASB] planned [the first] one and then we kind of just showed it to the [students]. But for the second one [we] wanted it to be more of a collaboration in planning the actual events instead of us planning and then just inviting them,” Alicia Sigala, senior and Chair of the ESL Committee, said. 

“We introduced games that we knew to them, and they thought of some games that they like, and they showed us that. One of them was Lotería, which is pretty much just like bingo, and they’d also mentioned doing cartas, just like playing cards and stuff,” Sigala continued. “So we went up there, we talked with them. We had a whiteboard, and we wrote down our ideas, their ideas and ultimately just made a list of what we want to do in this activity together.”

The longevity of this relationship and its development over the course of this academic year has allowed for bonds and connections to form between students outside of this allocated time.

“I feel like [the ASB students] have really grown in their relationships with the students in Ms. Wenzel’s classes,” Uhalde said. “There’s a lot of informal high fives or fist bumps or ‘Oh, good to see you again,’ that kind of thing.” 

Casual greetings are extended into the day to day lives of students, creating friendship between the two Sequoia communities. 

“I have a friend in the class [and] it’s just like a friendly face that we get to see and every time we go hang out with them, I always say hi. And now I see her in the hall and I say hi to her,” Dulsky said. 

Along with the development of friendship, and for ELD students to practice their English, ASB also gets impactful input on how they function as a student establishment at Sequoia. 

“We can put out a million surveys and we can put out a million forms, you know, ‘What do you want ASB to do? How can we help?’” Sigala said. “But I think what really gets to different groups at Sequoia is honestly just collaborating with them, having us meet, being in a room together and do[ing] an activity together.”