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Heads Up: The Virtual Summer Program
Mikki Frazier

Heads Up Alumna and Artist, Erin “Kandy” Walker poses with pieces from her first solo exhibition, "A Profound Reality."

The Heads Up program is moving into the third week of our first-ever online program. Each week, students engage in small-group advisories, enrichment classes like memoir writing and cooking, and morning meetings that address police violence, cis-normativity, identity, race, and the power of art, music, and joy. For more updates, follow us on Instagram

Since our program began, we’ve welcomed weekly guests to share their inspiring stories. At our recent Heads Up young alumni event, each (virtual) panelist spoke about how they’ve harnessed their own talents––from art to activism––to support their communities. Artist Erin Walker, who graduated from Heads Up in 2019, recently debuted her first solo exhibition and spoke about how her time at Heads Up impacted her perspective and interest in giving back to her community. We also heard from community artist Oree Originol and the hip-hop collective Sol Development (of which our phenomenal 9th grade teacher, Ms. Lauren is a member!). Each artist touched on themes of harnessing individual and collective power, demonstrating courage in difficult times, and the importance of self-care in activism.  

Mr. Walters, while teaching “Tinkering,” challenged his students to create weight-bearing structures using only six pieces of paper. Below is 7th grader Melanie’s submission. 

This summer, we’ve also welcomed our inaugural crew of thirteen Head-Royce Upper School students as volunteer Academic Mentors. These students are learning more about our local Oakland Community and supporting the Heads Up middle schoolers with one-on-one check-ins, tutoring, and fun events like virtual scavenger hunts and raffles. 

Lastly, we must make space to wish a proper farewell to our current leader, Ms. Liz Solis, or simply “Solis” as many so lovingly call her. When Liz first arrived at Head-Royce, she filled the shoes of amazing educator Mr. Dexter Moore. It was hard to imagine such a seamless transition after the departure of a beloved community member, but Liz graciously took the reins with full support and enthusiasm. In her first summer, I assigned Liz the nickname “The Mayor,” because she so quickly established strong relationships and became beloved to students. Beyond popularity, this quality helped Liz develop a rich network of local educators committed to Heads Up, all while cultivating an authentic sense of belonging amongst all our constituents. 

Beyond her skills in forming and building relationships, Liz is an extraordinarily talented educator. Her talent for designing meaningful and relevant curriculum for middle school students have improved our student-engagement and inspired young minds and faculty alike. We are grateful to have had a master teacher apply her thoughtful lens toward creating rich learning experiences for Heads Up. 

On the long list of things Liz has brought to all of us, most striking to me is her sincere love of our students and staff. She comes at the work as a supportive friend and colleague to all, treating everyone with the same care and commitment that ensures they feel seen at Heads Up. It has been my great pleasure to work with`her and I have learned so much from observing her skillful leadership. 

We are all so grateful for her presence and many investments and look forward to continuing to build with her in whatever capacity possible. Please join me in sharing gratitude for our fearless leader, Ms. Liz Solis, and best of luck in her new position as Interim Dean of Academics in the Upper School. Thankfully, she isn’t going far.