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The Art of Adulting: A Life Skills and Leadership Development Curriculum for Teens

By September 21, 2021December 31st, 2021General, HY Board

After eight years of mentoring the Highlands Council Youth (HY) Advisory Board, I learned our high school students do not look for “planned social opportunities” but still seek ways to engage with peers. That’s why, this year, we’re launching a new approach by offering a curriculum called “The Art of Adulting.” This curriculum targets ninth through 12th-grade students and seeks to build upon their demonstrated resilience during the pandemic, to inspire, empower, mentor, engage, and equip them with skills that build self-confidence in an uncertain future and provide pathways to future success.

The HY is partnering with Issaquah Highlands residents and business leaders who believe learning life skills will teach our students to become critical thinkers, feel empowered about their futures, introduce career options, and enhance overall leadership development.

October: Councilmember Zach Hall, Issaquah City Council

Launching this series is Issaquah High School grad (class of 2013) and Issaquah Highlands resident Issaquah City Councilmember Zach Hall. On October 3, at 3 p.m., Councilmember Hall will offer firsthand experience regarding civic engagement in a virtual format.

From campaign manager to state legislative assistant to elected Issaquah City Council member, Councilmember Hall will discuss the importance of paying attention to local government, volunteer roles in government, and how students can get involved. Councilmember Hall knows voting matters and will teach teens how to research candidates and exercise their votes every time they have the opportunity. The 90-minute presentation will have plenty of time for Q&A.

November: Chef Kim Ngo, City Mom in the Wild Eats

On November 7, resident Chef Kim Ngo of City Mom in the Wild Eats will host two two-hour virtual cooking classes for high school students. This class is limited to 12 students per session, with all ingredients provided in advance. For each session, students will prepare a simple two-course menu of winter minestrone and French apple cake. These recipes involve using basic pantry staples and fresh, healthy produce that do not require special equipment as students will prep everything by hand to maximize the learning of kitchen skills.

Chef Ngo will explain the how’s and why’s of cooking, including the mechanics, science, economics, and nutritional aspects while emphasizing the importance of keeping a clean space – something she believes is key to falling in love with cooking.

December: Issaquah Police Department and Marcel Dore, State Farm Insurance

On Sunday, December 5, the workshops is a double-feature focused on safe driving, with presentations on police and public safety and auto insurance. Students will hear from the Issaquah Police Department about the importance of safe driving; what to do when you get pulled over, are in or witness an accident; and the impact of high-speed crashes.

Local State Farm Agent Marcel Dore will connect the importance of safe driving provided to the cost of auto insurance, including how being a safe teen driver directly impacts auto insurance costs as an adult. There will be plenty of time for questions throughout the workshop.

The Art of Adulting will continue in 2022 with topics including identifying college and career interests, how to build a personal brand, interpersonal and interviewing skills, financial literacy, public transportation, the cost of civilization, and much more.

The HY Board plans to evaluate the workshops in this inaugural year and modify them for the future with hopes the “The Art of Adulting” will become an annual rite of passage for teens in our community. If you have an idea for a workshop or would like to offer your expertise to facilitate a workshop, contact me at

Click here for more details on upcoming workshops and to register >>

Christy Garrard is HY board high School mentor leader, Issaquah Highlands Community Fund president, Highlands Council executive director, and a Dahlia Park resident.