Menlo Brings Together Youth Activists from Bay Area at 1Bay Youth


Marlon Richardson, the Education Director at Hip Hop for Change, an organization that uses hip hop culture as a way to address socioeconomic injustices, speaks to teachers of students attending the summit during the Activism Fair at lunch. Staff Photo: Grace Wilson.

Elisabeth Westermann, Opinions Editor

Over a hundred students from 12 different Bay Area schools gathered at Menlo for the first-ever 1Bay Youth Action Summit on Wednesday, Oct. 23. Nine students from the Menlo Upper School and seven students from the Middle School attended the summit The students came to Menlo to form connections with other youth activists from the Bay Area and to brainstorm actions that students can take to address issues ranging from inequity in education to gun violence. 

According to Chris Young, Menlo’s Community Engagement Director and the primary organizer of the event, the goals for the day were twofold. He hoped that students attending the all-day summit would “find allies on issues [they] want to work on […] and create initial plans for action.” He hoped that the assembly and activities fair at lunch would “provide [all Menlo students] a chance to hear from voices [they] might not ordinarily hear from, and to visit organizations working on all kinds of different issues, and to start to engage [by], ideally, signing up to become involved in an issue, or at least becoming more aware of an issue.”

The idea for the 1Bay Summit came from “the observation that young people around the Bay Area have a lot of energy to be activists on issues that they really care about,” Young explained. While 1Bay is currently just the name of the summit held at Menlo, it may become an “organization independent of Menlo” in the future, according to Young. Although there are no set plans, similar summits under the name of 1Bay could be held annually and hosted by different Bay Area schools. 

Many of the students attending the summit hoped that it would lead to real action. “I’m here to meet people passionate about change and to talk less and act more,” said Menlo-Atherton High School senior Lena Kalotihos. Angel Tlachi, a junior at Arise High School in Oakland, echoed that sentiment saying, “I’m hoping to create action. A lot of people talk without any action.” 

Young planned the day with that goal in mind. The activism fair at lunch, which featured tables and representatives from over 30 organizations was designed to allow students to become involved in organizations helping to address the issues they are passionate about, according to Young. In addition, students attending the summit spent much of the afternoon planning action in small groups. Each group had a different issue, ranging from healthcare to climate change to mental health. These groups created a poster outlining possible solutions that they later presented to the rest of the summit. 

For junior Alix Borton, a member of Menlo’s delegation, this was her favorite part of the day. “Hearing [other students attending the summit] speak allowed me to step back from the little bubble of my personal interests and learn about the issues my peers cared about, which made me care about them too,” she said. 

To help the students who attended the summit work together in the future, Young is sending out a survey that will ask students about their interest in joining different committees that will work to address issues of concern for the students. Young is planning on helping students in the committees coordinate via group text and video chatting. 

Some students have already begun to collaborate on their own. “I am looking forward to collaborating with the guest students from other schools who share my enthusiasm for climate action. We made a group chat and everything, so we’re ready to get the ball rolling!” Borton said. 

One of the main themes of the day was that youth have the power to create change. Both Pastor Michael McBride, who spoke during assembly, and Dr. Clayborne Carson, director of The Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford, who spoke to the students attending the summit, included this theme in their talks. They used examples such as the Freedom Riders to demonstrate how young people can be catalysts for change. 

McBride opened his speech with an inspiring message for students: “Any change that is meaningful that has happened in our country, dare I say in the world, has happened because young people have been the engine for that change. […] You are your ancestors’ wildest dreams. Hundreds of years ago they were hoping, they were wishing for you to be sitting in this seat alive and to take what they had done, but not yet finished, and advance it even further than they had ever imagined.”