Grand Re-Opening of the Van Asselt Teen Room

That’s a wrap! Over the course of 22 meetings, 8 teens completely reenvisioned and redesigned the Teen Room at the Van Asselt Community Center. Taking into account community feedback, the youth cleaned, painted, and decorated the space to make it a warm and welcoming room where their peers can hang out, study, or watch the basketball games on the court below. They worked with carpenter Chris Landingin to repurpose the furniture already in the room for use as backless benches, coffee tables, and end tables. In the end, they were thrilled to see people in the space, actually using all of the features they had designed!

Working as a team, the teens took the room from this:

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To this:

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What’s the Difference Between a Self-Portrait and a Selfie?

As part of their photography unit, the teens also learned about portraiture. One Saturday, the group piled into the van and headed to the Northwest African American Museum. There, they took in the exhibition Everyday Black, which features contemporary portraits by photographers Jessica Rycheal and Zorn B. Taylor. Each teen picked one image in the show to present to their peers, focusing on the composition and what attracted them to the photograph. One teen observed, “I feel like he [the subject] is trying to see right through me,” while Kaidra remarked of the exhibition overall, “I like the messages they’re sending to my brain!”

Back at the center, the teens tried their hands at self-portraiture. One teen asked what the difference is between a self-portrait and a selfie. Based on what they had seen and learned at NAAM, the youth decided that a self-portrait is highly intentional, and focuses on self-representation. A self-portrait encourages the viewer to ask “who is this person, and what do they want me to know about them?” After everyone had a self-portrait they were satisfied with, the teens incorporated their photographs into the design of their own personal business cards. business cards


Photographic Composition

On Wednesdays, the youth participated in a multi-week photography intensive. After looking at some professional photographers’ work, the teens learned about some principles of photographic composition, including the rule of thirds, leading lines, symmetry, frame within a frame, repetition, fill the frame, bird’s eye view and worm’s eye view. Once they were comfortable with these principles, they explored the community center to take photographs. They even completed a photo challenge where they captured an example of each principle of composition!

Kaidra’s example of bird’s eye view.
Kaidra posing on the playground
Christina from an interesting perspective

Personal Style Mood Boards

The DYN teens were tasked with creating mood boards that encapsulated their own unique personal styles. Part of the challenge was to include at least three different color “formulas” from the color theory lesson, as well as different textures, patterns, words, and images that they found inspiring. Using a variety of materials, the teens whipped up some pretty impressive and aesthetically pleasing mood boards, which they then presented to their classmates.


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An Introduction to Color Theory

On their first Saturday morning together, the DYN teens dove into color theory. They started by watching this engaging video to learn about the role of color in graphic design. The video reviewed some familiar concepts (such as primary, secondary, and tertiary colors) while also introducing new terms like hue, saturation, and value. The video gave examples of some common color “formulas,” including monochromatic, analogous, complementary, split complementary, triadic, and tetradic. The teens then applied what they had learned and seen as they made their own color wheels using paper plates and oil pastels. 12


A Room with a View

It’s a new year and Design Your [Neighbor]hood is back at it! This time, we’re teaming up with Seattle Parks and Recreation to redesign the Teen Room at the Van Asselt Community Center, located at the edge of the New Holly neighborhood.


The Teen Room has a lot of design potential — check out those huge windows that look out over the basketball court!


Over the course of ten weeks, eight teens will work together to transform the Teen Room into a warm and welcoming space that fulfills the community’s needs. Stay tuned to find out how they do it!



Unveiling and Celebrating the New EHS Murals!

It’s hard to believe, but this session of Design Your [Neighbor]hood is a wrap! In just four short weeks, the teens have learned all about different design elements, toured SAM, met with muralist Chris Jordan, visited Burien’s Art Alley, and painted not one, but two murals!

The students invited family members, friends, teachers, SAM staff, and other community members to the big reveal of their finished projects. After sharing some snacks and chitchat, the teens presented their design processes, lessons learned, and favorite parts of the program.

Then they led the group to the main entrance of the school to see their murals. First, they had to officially cut the ribbon, though!


Thanks to the DYH group, the EHS main entrance has been totally transformed. They definitely met their goal of creating unique, inspiring, and welcoming murals for their school!

Compare the entrance before:


To after:


Both murals serve to bolster school spirit and encourage campus unity. The mural on the left wall includes the claws and paw prints of a wolverine, the school mascot, as well as the EHS logo and motto. It also features images to represent each of the three former schools, to symbolize them coming together as one to form the new EHS. The mural on the right has a wolverine head superimposed on a globe to represent the diversity and unity found at EHS. This design also has an inspirational element, as the road symbolizes students’ journeys to success.

On behalf of SAM and EHS, we are so proud of the students and all that they accomplished during this program!

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