Last summer, our Novato site made Aim High history by celebrating their first graduating class of rising Aim High 9th graders. Aim High founded the Novato site in 2019 to address the limited options for summer enrichment in Marin County. With the help of community partners and donors, we opened the Novato site, giving middle school students the opportunity to participate every summer in challenging STEAM projects, engage in literary texts in book club and talk about their identities in Issues and Choices. For the past four summers, students have had positive relationships with teachers and experienced a sense of belonging. Students like Gerardo, a sixth-grader at our Novato site, felt seen and heard and part of a community. Aim High strengthened his skills as an independent learner and sparked in him a lifelong love of learning. We recently interviewed Gerardo about his first summer at Aim High and his first year in middle school. What is something you learned during the summer that you use in 6th grade? Something I learned at Aim High is how to socialize and be kind to people. I have learned how to become a better person and succeed in school. What was your favorite part of Aim High? My favorite part of Aim High was doing activities and hanging out with people. I really liked activities like cooking and LEGOs. Why do you think programs such as Aim High are important? Aim High is about doing something different. Aim High gives students fun activities to do during the summer, instead of just watching TV. At Aim High I learned a lot, had fun and enjoyed doing all the activities. How is your school year going? It’s going pretty well. I really like seeing people that I know from school and school clubs in person. I am in Meme Daily Ink Club, where we create and share memes. We sometimes have zoom meetings where we review memes. It’s a lot of fun. This year I have been trying to get better grades. If I have missing homework I try to do the missing assignments as much as I can do. What is something you are looking forward to this school year? I am looking forward to sports, band and art. I want to play soccer, baseball and maybe basketball. I plan to join the school band and either play the flute or guitar. I want to join an art class next semester. What do you do for fun? I like to draw and play video games. I draw anime and cartoons and think of original ideas. What do you want to be when you grow up? I want to be an animator or voice actor. I want to be an animator because I want to make ideas into cartoons. If I become an animator I want to be known around the world. I want to be a voice actor because I want to do funny voices and express myself. Do you plan to attend Aim High next summer? What are you looking forward to next year at Aim High? Yeah, I look forward to the different activities. I feel like the activities will be more complex next summer. I am hoping there will be field trips. We look forward to welcoming Gerardo next summer and wish him a safe and healthy school year. Make sure to take a look at some of the projects Gerardo worked on last summer. Our Novato students learned to create with simple knots, patterns and cords in a macrame elective. In Book Club class, after reading Jason Reynolds’s “The Ingredients,” students considered the “ingredients” that make up their communities by creating a sandwich that represents the important individuals in their lives. Do you want to learn more about how our Novato site was founded? Read our article on Novato.