“Celebrating 50 Years of Hip Hop Culture: Authenticity, Innovation, & Evolution”

On Thursday, April 13,2023 the CIPHER Hip Hop Learning Community hosted their 16th Annual Rock The School Bells (RTSB) Hip Hop Conference to over 200 students from various high school groups. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Hip Hop culture and to celebrate it, students had the opportunity to participate in a choice of 15 different Hip Hop workshops that were rooted in authenticity, innovation, and evolution.  Some of the workshops were hosted by our very own Skyline College faculty who opened their classes to be part of the RTSB experience. Thank you to Dr. Rod Daus-Magbual, Dr. Liza Erpelo, John Ulloa, Soledad McCarthy, Rika Fabian, Arnette Villela-Smith, and Lucia Lachmayr for co-creating this experience for our high school students.

In addition to attending various workshops such as Hip Hop Entrepreneurship, The Era of AI Technology, and the FEMCEE: Women’s Empowerment through Writing, attendees also had the opportunity to experience live performances by DJ Bitesize, Feline Finesse (all-girl dance crew), Rhymosaurs, Oswald Ferrer, and Allen Bustos.  They also had the opportunity to experience a car showcase where owners shared their story about their cars and how it informed their own identity and the communities they come from.

Vice President of Instruction, Dr. Vinizio Lopez provided the welcome remarks highlighting the importance of creating spaces for youth and students to be their authentic selves. Our closing keynote speaker, Unlearn The World, provided a captivating message amplifying the strength and power of our youth voices, reminding us that Hip Hop culture provides youth the platform to express themselves freely and authentically in spaces where they are often silenced and invisibilized. 

Creating this educational experience for our students, there are so many people that came together in making this happen. Thank you, Marisa Thigpen, for organizing the Resource Fair that included the Learning Communities, Financial Aid, Strategic Partnerships and Workforce Development, the Learning Center, Peer Mentoring, and Cosmetology. Special shout out goes to the Barbering Program for giving our attendees free clean-ups and quick shaves. Gratitude to SPWD for providing lunch for our attendees, facilitators, and performers. Thank you to the Outreach Office for inviting our high school partners. To our Facilities team, thank you for creating the space we envisioned for our conference. To the Media Services team especially Josh Porter, thank you and your team for supporting our AV efforts throughout the day.  We are also grateful for our donors and vendors who made this event successful – Derby SF, Campos Jewelry, Atlas Skateshop, Whipt Cookies, Rhymosaurs, and Kim Davalos. Special shout out to our community vendors, HD Light & Party SF, who brought life to the event with their amazing LED dance floors and Impact Sounds Photobooth for providing event photos for our attendees.

None of this would be possible without the support of our Skyline College Administration who have supported our event for the last 16 years – Acting President Joe Morello, VPI Vinizio Lopez, VPSS Newin Orante, and all of our Academic Deans and educational leaders. Lastly, to the RTSB planning team who have tirelessly planned for this event for the last 6 months – David Nguyen, Alex Urbina, Joseph Jaballa, Caitlin Collantes, Isaiah Angeles, Anthony Tolosa, Guadalupe Jimenez, Shinna Kim, Jayde Tijero, Mandy Lucas, Charlie Morales, Kim Davalos, Marisa Thigpen, and Brianna Clay along with the 30+ volunteers that made the event flow seamlessly.

From the words of one of our high school partners, “This event felt so magical. Thank you for providing this event for our students. ”It truly takes a whole village to create this magic in the spirit of Hip Hop culture.

To learn more about Rock the School Bells, you can go to www.rocktheschoolbells.com. If you want to get involve for next year’s RTSB, please contact Dr. Nate Nevado at nevadon@smccd.edu.

Article by: Nate Nevado | Photos by: David Nguyen & Marisa Thigpen

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