Middle school can be rough. Los Siete guides boys through it
In middle school, you’re thrown into a completely new environment with hundreds of people you’ve never met before. Your body and brain are changing. You’re starting to learn how to grow up.
This transition can be hard on young teens. They can fail in classes and have issues outside of school.
However, at Chinook Middle School in Sea-Tac, a group called Los Siete provides guidance and support for middle school boys.
Victor Campos is one of the original members of Los Siete.
I'm a member, too, just a few years behind Victor.
Since it started, Los Siete has helped over 150 young men navigate middle school. It provides a place for them to express their emotions and feel supported and secure.
Victor started attending Chinook Middle School in 8th grade. There, he was introduced to Los Siete, which would become his second family.
“I was in a bad place,” Victor told me. “I was being disruptive in school, and I didn’t really have a father figure. Before joining Los Siete, I would consider myself disruptive, disrespectful, not caring."
“I already saw myself messing up in life," he said. "I wasn’t looking towards college. I wasn’t looking towards high school. I was definitely not doing good.”
Then he met Reid Sundblad, Los Siete’s founder. Mr. Sundblad is a teacher and father figure to the boys in the group.
Mr. Sundblad told me one of his first memories of Victor was watching Victor "running around the gym and purposefully pushing another student down who was running in front of him.”
Victor wasn’t sure what he wanted for his future. His disconnection from adults was taking a toll on him. But Victor slowly built a bond with Mr. Sundblad.
“I turned to [Mr. Sundblad],” Victor said. “He started talking to me and trying to figure out the real reason, like the deep core root of why this is happening, why I got in trouble.”
Los Siete means “the seven.” It started with seven boys.
“At first it wasn’t a group. It was more of a couple of students who got along,” Victor said.
These students pledged to live by seven values, including integrity, loyalty and academic responsibility.
But when the group did things together while following the core values, those activities became more meaningful.
“It turned more into a group when we started to better the school,” Victor said. “For instance, for Valentine’s Day, we united after school, and we all prepared everything before the big day. It was nice brotherhood.”
Every year on Valentine’s Day, 8th grade Los Siete members dress up and hand out roses and candy to the whole school.
We also have smaller events every month, like potlucks, movie nights and video games. Nothing too formal, just fun, and time well spent together as a family.
Victor started as a struggling teen — hurting others, being disrespectful and struggling in school.
Where is he now? A sophomore in college, changed.
“He’s grown tremendously,” Mr. Sundblad said. “That kid is a walking example of someone I want future Los Siete members to emulate. He has grown into someone who cares about his academics and success.”
Victor recognizes his own growth and evolution.
“Los Siete definitely changed my life,” Victor said. “If I could make an impact on another student’s life, I will.”
Strong connections with adults and peers at school may change a student’s life. In a time of change, students need encouragement to stay on the right track.
So thank you to Mr. Sundblad and all of Los Siete for supporting me, and for giving so many boys a family to turn to.
This story was created in KUOW's RadioActive Intro to Journalism Workshop for 15- to 18-year-olds, with production support from Kenju Waweru. Edited by Joshua McNichols.
Support for KUOW's RadioActive comes from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center.