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©2017 Sequoyah School, Pasadena, CA. All rights reserved.

October 17, 2019

Sequoyah's Social Innovation Program was recently awarded a lifetime subscription to SIMA Classroom for our unique educational program that supports students in taking on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. SIMA offers a bountiful library of social impact documentaries. Thanks, SIMA!

October 10, 2019

This post is featured on the National Capstone Consortium website. RJ wrote it at the 2019 National Capstone Consortium Summit in Boston, MA.

My first hours on the job as Director of Social Innovation at Sequoyah School were spent in the car on the way to Ojai, CA with our high school director, head of school, and student support coordinator. We were headed to the 2017 Capstone Consortium at Thacher School. 

I spent my time at the Summit in a sponge-like state. I soaked up questions and answers, not yet even having created a summer prep to-do list for myself, let alone knowing what I’d be doing during the school year with our students in our Local Issues and Impact Project capstone curricula. I envied the schools with established programs and lessons f...

October 2, 2019

Last Friday, our 9th and 10th graders in our Local Issues curriculum conducted Interviews About Interviewing. In preparation for ethnographic field research that teams will conduct in the upcoming months, these informational conversations with professional question-askers proved to be a fruitful opportunity to learn about phrasing and ordering questions, maintaining respectful body language, how to deal with sticky ethical situations, and more.

Thank you to our guests for taking the time to speak with our students:

  • Laurie Ochoa, arts and entertainment editor at the Los Angeles Times

  • Sammy Roth, energy reporter for the Los Angeles Times

  • Ian Chang, former journalist and English teacher

  • Anais Plasketes, licensed marriage and family ther...

July 3, 2019

In Pasadena, there are very few protections for tenants: tenants can be evicted for no reason at all (with just sixty days to move, even if they have been living in their current home for decades), and rents can be increased as much and as often as a landlord wants.

Renting can mean living with a permanent sense of insecurity: you could get a rent increase or even lose your home at any time. It also means disruption. As people are forced to move more often, communities are broken and support networks are torn apart.

To wrap up a year of research, our team of nine 9th and 10th graders created RentQuest! Using their qualitative and bibliographic research on issues renters face, their choose-your-own adventure story innovatively utilizes Google Slides to...

June 19, 2019

This is a guest post written by Thomas Logan, '20 about his Impact Project.

Food scraps are valuable resources that are being wasted. When sent to the landfill, food waste rots. As it does, it releases methane, a greenhouse gas thirty times as potent as carbon dioxide, which is contributing to global warming. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, landfills account for 34 percent of all methane emissions in the United States.
    However, rather than contributing to the problem of climate change, food scraps can be used to help mitigate it. Food scraps can be diverted from landfills, converted to compost, and used as a fertilizer in farms and gardens. Compost strengthens beneficial ecosystems in the soil, feeding microbes in the ground...

June 10, 2019

During the month of May, our students partake in our Experiential Mod; they spend time on a trip in our Field Studies program, or they spend their days on campus devoting every hour of the school day to their work in the Social Innovation Program. This year, to break up the day, we piloted CoCoFab. These hour-long, mixed-grade sessions happened Mondays around the theme of contemplation, Wednesdays around the theme of communication, and on Fridays around the theme of fabrication. 

During one Monday session, students viewed George Aye's SXSW 2018 talk, "The Designer's Weakness: Understanding the Role of Power." Inspired by the themes of the talk, students from Lindsey's group wrote a series of questions that might help students evaluate the effectivenes...

February 6, 2019

As part of their work in our year-long Impact Project curriculum, Pia '20 and Natalie '20 have been working on a cause that advocates for something many major cities have, though Los Angeles doesn't. Please see their call to action below.

My partner, Pia, and I have been working with the Los Angeles Invest in Youth Campaign. Our campaign and our goal is to aim for an equitable youth development department in Los Angeles. Many youth aren’t being provided with the necessary resources to succeed in their communities. We are currently asking young people and organizations all across Los Angeles to come up with ideas for programs that they wish to see in their communities. In March, our coalition will be sending youth, like us, to advocate for the needs in...

November 21, 2018

Written by Adela Villalba '21, a member of the 9th/10th grade team spending the year learning (and doing!) something about accessory dwelling units (ADUs) as a form of alternate housing in Los Angeles. Thank you to Renee Dake Wilson for the invitation and to LA Más for hosting.

Above: Ilan (SIP faculty facilitator), Crystal '21, Adela '21, Renee Dake Wilson

    On November 1st, Crystal, one of my peers, and I attended LA-Más’ 4th Annual Hootenanny Fundraiser. I had no prior knowledge of this event but RJ, Sequoyah’s Director of Social Innovation had recommended it because the evening’s program involved ADUs. I was not disappointed. Not only were the honorees making a change with their plan, but they were extremely empowering and genuine—from...

June 16, 2018

This year students in the Social Innovation Program visited with just over 100 non-profits, government agencies, activists, artists, entrepreneurs, and media makers. 9th and 10th graders studied topics such as the conservation of green spaces in the face of urbanization, the school to prison pipeline, historic rates of income and wealth inequality, and teen mental health, amongst others. 11th graders worked on year long projects on issues like urban food insecurity, college access for youth in the foster care system, protection of the coyote population, and music education for students on the Autism spectrum. Through site visits and interviews, students learned about the nitty gritty of the issues as well as interventions people are rallying around (...

June 15, 2018

In May 10th and 11th graders took a ten day trip to Costa Rica as part of their participation in the Social Innovation Program (SIP). After an early morning at LAX, students found themselves in Alajuela, Costa Rica greeted by humid air and a dinner of plantains, rice, beans, and a variety of grilled meats. The following day, students split into small groups tasked with accomplishing scavenger hunt items, such as: buying a newspaper; learning a Costa Rican joke; sending a postcard to campus; visiting the central market. Once reconvened, students had fun recounting stories from the day and sharing fruits they had bought, like mamoncillo, cas, and carambola.

Students spent the majority of the trip paired with families in Cedral, a small coffee growing co...

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The Social Innovation Program at Sequoyah School develops students’ desire to be responsible, effective changemakers. The four-year curriculum integrates site visits, systems thinking, and physical prototyping to develop students’ confidence in addressing the pressing social and environmental justice issues of our time.


RJ Sakai

Director of Social Innovation



July 3, 2019

November 21, 2018

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