The was filled to capacity with hope, dreams and action on Thursday night. The Young Dreamer Network, an organization that inspires and facilitates high school students to pursue their dreams, hosted an annual benefit to celebrate all their work for the past year.
It’s one thing to dream, but another to turn those dreams into action, which is exactly what the high schoolers from and had done.
“We’re so excited to be letting the young dreamers showcase what they’ve been doing all year,” said CEO and founder of the Young Dreamer Network. “It’s so important to recognize young people for everything they’ve done.”
The Redwood City dreamers also have gained a more global perspective by interacting with the young dreamers from other chapters around the globe seven of whom were in attendance on Thursday.
The Young Dreamer of the year, as nominated by his peers, humbly thanked everyone who had helped him achieve his dream of “revolutionizing the media.” Yet, his peers consistently had only praise for sophomore Sean Story, 16, of Everest High School.
To motivate the dreamers to continue their work, Story initiated an entire podcast series in which he produces, shoots and edits himself with the help of friends from another Redwood City non-profit, Fresh Takes.
He highlights to compile an inspirational reel that the dreamers watch every week.
“What we do is a wonderful thing,” Story said. “[The dreamers] inspire me every day.”
Mayor Alicia Aguirre, who presented the Young Dreamer Award, said that Story epitomizes the youth in Redwood City.
“Not only is he bright and intelligent, but he’s kind,” Aguirre said. “And there’s something to be said for civility.”
“All his peers can relate to him, and he can also relate to everyone around him, adults too,” she said.
Sophomore Sarah Fishback, 16, said the Young Dreamer Network had given her the confidence to truly make a difference in the world and be part of a group that feels the same way.
She and other dreamers put on an in October to draw attention to a growing problem in schools. They also tutored middle schools along the Peninsula and organized clean-ups in the Fair Oaks neighborhood.
“I’m so excited that this day is finally here,” she said of the event. “It’ll show what an activist’s journey looks like.”
Freshman Cheyenne Seneca added that in addition to the community service opportunities, the organization helped her gave public speaking schools and leadership opportunities to share her own ideas. As part of the anti-bullying campaing, she also spoke to 4th and 5th graders in small groups so they could have much more intimate discussions about any bulling issues.
Diane Tavenner, the founder and CEO of the Summit Public Schools around the Bay Area, was the honoree of the first “Dreamer of the Year” award,
She inspired the audience with her journey from a school teacher with a dream to the founder of one of the in the nation.
“I had a hope to change education, and I had the faith to do it,” Tavenner said.
She added that on May 23, the Summit schools would host the first ever Innovation Summit with Google leaders, students and all the teachers and faculty from the charter school to dream about what they want school to be like.
Dreamers Around the World
While high school students in Redwood City have worked on numerous projects to help their community, their reach has extended across hemispheres to Guatemala. During a summer trip, they worked with the Young Dreamer branch in Guatemala to help build homes.
To return the favor, Young Dreamers from Guatemala arrived in Redwood City last week to help with numerous beautification projects around Sequoia High School and the parks in town.
“I’m so happy to be here,” Telma, 17, said in Spanish. “I’ve never imagined coming to the United States before.”
Because of the Young Dreamer scholarships the Network has provided, Telma and her friend Maribel, 16, aspire to become teachers “for the love of children,” they said.
Luis Botegrande Edguardo is from the small town, Vuelta Grande, just outside of Antigua. There are no native teachers in his town, only dedicated teachers who come from Antigua every day. Thanks to the scholarship from the Young Dreamer Network that allows Luis to attend school rather than work all day to support his family of 10, Luis now wants to become the first teacher to teach in his town of Vuelta Grande.