This year I have the privilege and the pleasure of facilitating an outstanding group of eleventh grade Scholars, who not only visibly love FLOC and the adults who work here, but who love and care for each other. As a new FLOC adult in their lives, I am touched by the ways they share themselves with me, and the bird’s eye view they offer me into their lives and their beings. In my role as an advisor, as I listen to their goals and aspirations, what they dream about and succeed in or are challenged by, I am reminded of how simultaneously difficult and wonderful it is to be in high school, and the importance of having adults who believe in you: adults that are willing to hold you accountable and ask you to push yourself, but who haven’t forgotten the unique experience of being a teenager.
During advising I try mostly to listen, and what I’ve heard is largely to be celebrated. What most strikes me about this group of students is their joy in and hunger for giving back; beyond their required community service hours to graduate, many students volunteer in meaningful ways, and additionally are exploring non-profit work. A number of this year’s eleventh grade scholars are involved in Learn Serve, which is a program that helps educate students about social issues and the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) field, and equip students to become advocates and youth leaders who generate sustainable social change in their communities. As part of the Learn Serve experience, students are tasked to develop a nonprofit proposal and mission statement as well as a way to implement it; examples from FLOC students include providing trauma relief for victims of sexual violence between the ages of 11 and 14, and implementing younger, student-led STEM field education that prepares youth to be leaders in these fields.
Beyond involvement in Learn Serve, which is a program that FLOC connects Scholars with, students also express a desire to birth and run their own non-profit businesses. They currently act as tutors and mentors, “Field of Dreams” counselors and captains of student organizations, advocates for youth homelessness and suicide prevention, cheerleading coaches and competitive dancers, film makers and entrepreneurs, future noise makers and practitioners of law, engineering or medicine, etc. These students are already engaged as developing youth leaders and voices of empowerment, and much of this is due to influential adults calling out their gifts, nurturing them, and offering their vote of confidence and investment in their growth as people. I am excited by the individuals they are, the Scholars community they embody, and the things we will learn from and about each other. I anticipate the great things they will accomplish and inspire. I am blessed to have had an arsenal of mentors and adult advocates who supported me through my teenage years and support me now as a young adult, and I am excited to continue the cycle through my work at FLOC, and thankful for the potential I am now blessed to encourage and watch unfold.
(Amanda Lindamood is a Scholars Program Instructor at FLOC).