Rock The School Bells (RTSB) hosted their 15th Annual Hip Hop Conference on Friday, April 15, 2022, also known affectionately in the Bay as 415 Day. This year’s theme was created by our students – RTSB 15 HERE. HERE stands for Hip Hop’s Evolution through Resiliency and Energy.
The conference is a testimony to Tupac’s poem about roses growing from the concrete. These last two years, students have experienced so much pain and struggle navigating home, work, and school. Despite these challenges, students were able to grow from these experiences – oftentimes evolving in ways that amplified their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. Similar to Hip Hop, they found avenues to explore and elevate their sense of being and how they see themselves in the future. Hip Hop is about the remix and (r)evolution.
We were able to host over 200 students from Skyline College’s Middle College, San Francisco International High School, Peninsula High School, Brothers Empowering Brothers (College of San Mateo), Capuchino High School, Presidio Middle School, San Jose City College, and CHALK SF (Community in Harmony Advocating for Learning and Kids). They attended various workshops rooted in the elements of Hip Hop facilitated by Today’s Future Sound, Zulu Gremlin, Orlando ZEPS Molina, Amir Esfahani, and Janice Sapigao. Students were greeted by a powerful welcome address by Dean Russell Waldon that paved the way for keynote speaker and performer, Reza Dregs One Harris. Dregs One shared his experiences on how Hip Hop allowed him to see that he can be his authentic self in every space. As a graduate from the School of Law from UC Davis, he shared his ability to serve his community while still honoring his identity as a Hip Hop artist and muralist.
This event could not have happened without the support of our partners at Middle College (Martina Center-Goodman and her amazing team), Student Equity and Support Programs (Allen Ocampo), Student Life and Leadership (Alvin Gubatina and Ryan Samn), Puente (Alex Urbina), CIPHER (Sol McCarthy and Janice Sapigao), Promise Scholars Program (Kim Davalos), Outreach & Counseling (Jeremy Evangelista and Joseph Jaballa), our AV support team (Dave Camicia & Ricardo Flores) and our Counseling Interns (Atheena Haniff-Martinez and Jonathan Justo). Special gratitude to Andrea Vizenor and the Strategic Partnerships and Workforce Development team for helping with lunch; to our photographers for capturing the life and energy of the event – Tia Samn, Charlie Morales, Marisa Thigpen, and Michael Sagum; to all of our Skyline College Leadership Team especially Dean Russell Waldon and Vice President of Student Services Newin Orante for seeing us and connecting with students; lastly, to all of the student volunteers from ASSC, Outreach, and the Learning Communities who showed up and showed out. Thank you for welcoming our attendees with open arms and energy. You all truly make Skyline shine!
The pandemic shook us like loud Hip Hop classics reverberating from speakers. Hip Hop made us feel again. It continues to remind us who we are and who we can still become. This conference is about recognizing and lifting up students. It is a testament to the world that they are still HERE; that RTSB 15 HERE.
Next year, Hip Hop will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary. If you are interested in getting involved with Rock The School Bells in 2023 and/or would like to learn more about RTSB/CIPHER, you can contact Dr. Nate Nevado at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Nate Nevado | Photos by Marisa Thigpen, Charlie Morales, Tia Samn, & Michael Sagum