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Stanford Winter Enrichment Experience for Teens (SWEET)

High schoolers from East Palo Alto Academy and Menlo Atherton High School engage in enriching online academic and social activities.
SWEET students zoom

Thirty-one high school students from East Palo Alto Academy and Menlo Atherton High School took part in the Stanford Winter Enrichment Experience for Teens (SWEET) during the Sequoia Unified School District’s “Ski Week,” February 15-19.

SWEET is hosted by the Haas Center for Public Service. The event was designed to nurture the students' curiosity about Stanford as a college option and connect them with current Stanford students. This year’s themes were wellness, post-high school planning, and youth activism.

Staff from the Haas Center collaborated with Stanford students as well as staff and students from Foothill College and Youth United for Community Action (YUCA) to lead Zoom classroom activities and workshops and facilitate small group discussions.

SWEET word cloud

Each day the SWEET community started the day with a Land Acknowledgement that allowed students to consider the role of indigenous peoples in the region, both in the past and present. Students also viewed an interactive map to learn about the indigenous people of their hometowns, including the Seminole, Muskogee, and Tongva peoples.

Discussions included the purpose of Black History/Black Liberation Month and the value of collaborative community efforts. In collaboration with Stanford students, the high school youth created community norms to sustain a caring, thoughtful community through the week. An important concept in this session was that our liberation is linked, so we should learn about the issues affecting other people, even if their identities are different from ours.

Through a collaboration with Foothill College, the high school students engaged in conversations about pathways in STEM and how to get started. A key takeaway was students understanding that they could start taking computer science classes at Foothill College while still at high school and begin defining their paths early. A significant number of the students noted that this was their favorite workshop of SWEET.

YUCA led a conversation on the most pressing issues affecting youth in East Palo Alto, allowing the students to consider their sense of agency and leadership. YUCA shared a framework for building a campaign and organizing in their community. 

Other highlights and favorites included the origami workshop and the scavenger hunt, which allowed youth to learn more about Stanford.