YAT Hosts 27th Teen Summit

YAT staff members, teen summit committee members and juniors Alex Zhang and Ethan Zhang promote the event around campus by talking to students and showing them promotional posters. High attendance numbers depend on student-led promotion, social media and word of mouth being two examples.

Irvine’s High School Youth Action Team virtually hosted its 27th annual teen summit event, which was Ratatouille-themed, on April 10. The event featured Mayor Farrah Khan, University of California, Berkeley student Tony Kam and various keynote speakers on topics including self-defense and resilience, according to YAT staff member and senior Jada Ulep.

This year’s three-hour long districtwide youth conference had over 400 participants. 

YAT staff member and senior Jada Ulep helped promote the virtual teen summit by creating informative posters as well as spreading the news verbally during lunch breaks at school and through Zoom backgrounds. (Photo Courtesy of Jada Ulep)

“In previous years, there were a lot more events as people would come in different times, and they would have few fun activities beforehand,” two-year summit attendee and sophomore Aiza Khalil said. “This year, it was much shorter, as everyone was admitted at once, and you went to the different breakout rooms. And then you watch the presentations, which was so fun, but obviously missing that element of social interaction and no side activities.”

To compensate for the lack of face-to-face interaction, raffle prizes including AirPods and gift cards were given to active participants to incentivize attendance and participation.

The initiative was organized to engage the IUSD community and allow participants to build teen-related skills, one of them being media literacy which literary and language arts teacher Jill Cavotta led in a breakout room.

“I hope that it made students think about how they use different online platforms, what they get out of it and then how they present themselves, especially as you start to look for other jobs or internships or to start to build your resume, like during high school and after,” Cavotta said.  “Also just to think about the type of content we consume and how that affects us, mentally and emotionally.”

Portola High has been involved in YAT since the school opened, according to Ulep, and she herself has assumed a leadership role in the program since ninth grade.

“Then in my junior year of high school, I got the staff position, which is basically you get to work for the city of Irvine as a community service department aid, which is really cool,” Ulep said. “I’ve been volunteering with the Youth Action Team since I was in middle school. It basically provides a great opportunity for the staff members to create these types of experiences for high schoolers and opportunities, such as teen summit, but there are many other things. It’s one of the most engaging jobs or first jobs that I think a high schooler can get.”