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GMS Students’ Voices Brought to Life at 826 Valencia

826 Valencia Podcasts

Over 20 students from Gateway Middle School’s Creative Writing Club recently headed to 826 Valencia’s Tenderloin Center to create a podcast from scratch with the help of volunteer tutors and a staff facilitator.

As part of 826 Valencia’s Message in a Bottle Podcasting Program, Gateway students were led through a full day writing workshop where they brainstormed, modeled, drafted, revised, and recorded their personal poems. Most students were eager to tell their stories but, more importantly, they had the opportunity to be heard.

“The experience was challenging and emotional for some of our students,” said Lucy Hilarides, 8th grade Humanities Teacher and Creative Writing Advisor at Gateway Middle School. “Students moved from feeling like ‘what could I have to say that would be interesting to other people’ to feeling empowered in who they are and their stories. They realized that they deserved to use their voice and be heard.”


826 Valencia is a non-profit organization that aims to transform a young person’s relationship with writing. By allowing students to create and record personal poems as podcasts, 826 Valencia hopes students see writing as a tool and a place of power.


“The experience with the Message in a Bottle Podcasting Program was amazing,” said Hilarides. “I’ve never participated in a field trip where there’s been so much support and excitement around writing. The tutors, facilitators, and resources were stellar. Our students enjoyed having the quiet time, support, and tools to write about themselves in a safe and creative environment. It was amazing to see student's confidence and creativity grow over the course of just one day.”


Excerpts from students poems are below and the full collection of podcasts can be found here on SoundCloud.


“Sweeter than honey, hotter than spice, I’m awesome

I’m like a kite, I most definitely allow in light

Sky high

I’m from freedom and I’m alive”
-Bre, Gateway Middle School, 8th grade


“My name is unique

It makes you curious about who I am right away
I feel dependent on my name

That’s the first thing others interpret you by

My name sets up borders that I break with my personality”

-Sanaa, Gateway Middle School, 7th grade

“I am a king of basketball
My name is Zaire

Zaire is a country in Africa  

My name is powerful
My name is strong”

-Zaire, Gateway Middle School, 6th grade