Northside Project Updates


Today was another meeting in the process of executing our plan and ideas to make our school a better place. Like most of our meetings, we initiated with simple yet entertaining improv games. Our new recruit, Noah Olvera, is now our new team captain (congratulations, please be part of the team until senior year).

During our improv games, we got to share our laughs and jitters before getting down to business. After the games, we gathered around a single table and listened to Mrs. Sawa (Congrats to the newlywed!) talk about how to approach the restroom problem and get Noah motivated to help us. Idea after idea, goal after goal, we began to discuss how to address the problem to the student body at YES Prep Northside.

Mrs. Sawa displayed the video we made last year to Noah and Robert. Both were moved by the effort and the ongoing theme that the team was able to illuminate. After the video, we ventured to the library due to our room being occupied by teachers. From there, Mrs. Sawa had us get into groups and photograph the flaws that our local bathrooms had. We found crappy mishaps: gaps in stalls, spitballs on the walls, overflowing trash, and so many more. From these findings, we were able to move forward to our next step: problem-solving.

Creatively, each student went their separate ways–Noah suggested that we should greet the janitors, and Erika mentioned decorating our restrooms with students’ work to create an elevated atmosphere to hinder mistreatment. All in all, we ended with a 3-minute meditation which felt like a forever. Refreshed and awake, we are bound to make our school pristine on budget.

Featured post

Just Doing the Work

It’s easy to talk. 

For months now, we’ve been talking about this problem…why are the bathrooms an uncomfortable, smelly place? A place where girls can’t find feminine products or privacy. A place where boys pee on walls and organize underground fight clubs.

We’ve talked about these problems for hours on end and filled sheet after sheet with post-it notes of ideas. We’ve interviewed teachers, fellow students, and even our janitors.

Now, we must do the hard thing. It’s time to do the work. 

This is a life lesson, one that you will encounter time and time again in college and the real world. It’s easy to listen, talk, take notes. The hard part is doing the work that challenges you to use your creative energy, your focus, and everything you have to make the shared vision a reality.

If you spend all your time talking and not doing, the problem doesn’t get solved. Life continues as it was. Broken, smelly, uncomfortable.

The reason we’re all part of this team is because we accepted the challenge to solve a big problem. It’s a hard task. One that has the potential to impact the teachers, students, janitors, and staff at our school in our positive way.

We can’t give up now. Let’s push forward. I believe in every one of you, which is why I asked each of you to take on one piece of the project today. The only way we’ll succeed is if everyone excels and delivers.

  • Thanks Erika and Alexis, for working on the janitor video with focus and a real attention to detail. +
  • Thanks Cristobal and Jordan, for organizing all of the computers and getting our web pages in order +
  • Thank you Kam, for displaying leadership in stepping up during the improv instructions. +
  • Thank you Robert, for showing up today and deciding you want to be part of this team. +
  • Thank you Kevin, for editing the blog and adding your voice to our narrative. +
  • Thank you Stephanie, for always being willing to accept a challenge and figure it out. +
  • Thanks Samuel and Roberto, for sticking with us and starting your letter to the boxing gym, even though it was killing you to see other students playing soccer outside. +
  • Thanks Andrea and Dana, for taking charge in writing the letter to Always and finding where to send it. I have full faith you girls can do this. +

None of your effort goes unnoticed. Keep giving, working, and doing. We will go far together, I promise you this.

With love,

Ms. L

2/23/17 Prototype Revelation

Prototype Revelation

Observing the bathrooms in context is an excellent way to learn more about human behavior. Next week, a team of students will be conducting our social experiment by observing both the boys and girls bathrooms during passing periods. I will be at school to help the student researchers (Cristobal, Jordan, Samuel, Roberto, Stephanie, Erika and Laura)!
While prototyping, we pondered the boy’s bathroom situation. What drives
students to break stuff in there? Cristobal proposed a social experiment: what if we observed the restrooms during passing periods throughout the day?


Meeting Tomorrow 2/22/17

It's finally time to prototype! We will warm up with 30 minutes of improv and creativity exercises, then jump into group work. I will bring supplies for sketching out our prototypes...bring your ideas (and favorite pens/pencils!)


Moving Swiftly

Many thanks to our fun & productive crew! I know we moved quickly to cover it all, thanks for sticking with me! Next week, we're going full speed ahead with prototyping. Yahoo!

2/6/17 Meeting Recap

I’m so proud of everyone for owning their jobs last week. We are gaining momentum, thanks for bringing your energy and ideas to the group!

We voted for the remaining positions…drum roll, please!

  • Congrats to Kamryn, our new Improv Leader!
  • Shout out to Dana, our Treasurer!
  • Way to go Andrea, we can’t wait to have you as our Wellness Instructor!
  • Thanks Erika, for stepping up as our T-Shirt Chair!


Building the Team

Thanks to everyone who came to our meeting, we had EXCELLENT attendance! Shout out to our two newest members, Roberto and Samuel–

we are happy to have you!

Sometimes you win, sometimes you


This week we jumped back into our human-centered design project and had a great brainstorm session. I apologize for not giving everyone enough time to complete their jobs. Here’s what we will do differently next week:

  • Play 1 more improv game at the start (Kam, we are counting on you to lead us!)
  • Give everyone 20 minutes to do their jobs
  • Spend more time on the computers researching solutions

Rapid Prototyping Session

Creativity in Action

After some meditation and our 30 circle sketch exercise, the creative energy in the room was flowing.

We first reframed our design challenges:

  1. How might we unite everyone at Northside?
  2. How might we make the bathrooms a more private and comfortable experience?

Then, we created our first sketches of our ideas for solutions. Next week, we’ll be showing these sketches to students and teachers for feedback!

Using Humor to Connect
Today we also talked about two ways to motivate people to be respectful.
1.You can be strict, make rules, and reprimand those that violate them. Or…
2. You can be funny, witty, and invest others in the culture as a way to inspire them to take care of things.

The idea of using humor like memes and funny sayings on the walls got everyone jazzed up. Excited to see where this inspiration and energy will take us!


Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑