Impact Community

Please Welcome Our 2022 Fuego Youth Leaders

Cathy Niland | 07/14/2022

This week, eleven high school students came together at The Crucible to begin their four-week Fuego Youth Leadership Program. The program, now in its thirteenth year, is an opportunity for Bay Area teens to expand their industrial arts skills under the guidance of a mentor while also supporting Youth Summer Camp instructors in the classroom.

For the past two summers, we’ve held modified programs due to COVID-19-related restrictions. In 2020, five Fuego youth Leaders returned for a shortened two-week program, and last summer, all Fuego Youth Leaders were first-year participants. This is our first summer in three years where new and returning Fuego Youth Leaders will work alongside each other.

katherine chan
Returning Fuego Youth Leader Freddie Moussa learns new Flameworking skills for an upcoming jewelry project.

We’re also welcoming back one of our Fuego Youth Leaders from last summer, Ashala Jones, who is taking on a new role as our Fuego Assistant. She will be supporting our Fuego Coordinator, Nico Chen, and have the opportunity to continue working in our Ceramics department. 

This summer we have Leaders participating in eight departments, including Bike Shop, Blacksmithing, Glass Blowing, Glass Flameworking, Jewelry, and Welding. Get to know our 2022 cohort below and stay tuned throughout the summer for updates on their art and leadership development.

Say Hello To Our 2022 Fuego Youth Leaders

2022 Fuego Youth Leadership

Abeselom Weldegebriel, Age 17

Fuego Youth Leader in Blacksmithing, first year
School: Oakland International High School

Q: What are your first impressions of the program?
A: Exciting! Because I was doing ceramics and built a cup. Just doing things and then finishing them, that’s exciting!

2022 Fuego Youth Leadership

Ava Grochowski, age 16

Fuego youth Leader in Glass Flameworking, first year
School: Piedmont High School

Q: What drew you to the Fuego Youth Leadership Program?
A:  I’ve taken a bunch of classes here so I wanted to expand on that, and also, since this is a youth leadership program, I wanted to challenge myself.

2022 Fuego Youth Leadership

Christian Shinhoster, age 15

Fuego Youth Leader in ARC Welding, first year
School: De Anza High School

Q: What advice do you have for youth campers?
A:Yeah, don’t stress because it’s fun. You don’t have to overthink it, it’s not a test. See what the result is. If you like it, keep coming. If it’s not your thing, you can switch it up because there are multiple classes.

2022 Fuego Youth Leadership

Chris Gonzales-Ordonez, age 18

Fuego Youth Leader in Blacksmithing, second year
School: UC Santa Cruz

Q: What brought you back for a second year?
A: I like teaching other students and working with my hands. I’m looking forward to exploring new areas of blacksmithing. Last time I stuck to many smaller projects instead of one large project. I’m hoping to make something more crucial to blacksmithing like my own hammer and tongs.

2022 Fuego Youth Leadership

Freddie Moussa, age 17

Fuego Youth Leader in Jewelry, second year
School: Design Tech High School

Q: Are you excited about your second year as a Fuego Youth Leader?
A: I’m really excited to be back in the studio—it’s my happy place. Like my whole mood changes when I’m working with my hands in a place that I love. I’m going to be working with glass flameworking and incorporating that into my metal work this year.

2022 Fuego Youth Leadership

Jairo Valenzuela, age 18

Fuego Youth Leader in TIG Welding, first year
School: Oakland International High School

Q: Do you have any ideas for your project?
A: Yes, maybe a building or skyline in welding.

2022 Fuego Youth Leadership

Jasmine Quinones, age 18

Fuego Youth Leader in Jewelry, second year
School: Taking a gap year after graduating from Berkeley High School

Q: Why did you want to come back?
A: It’s just so fun and it’s what I want to do with my time. I could work on art all day, for hours and hours.

2022 Fuego Youth Leadership

Lavender Chen, age 17

Fuego Youth Leader in MIG Welding and Bike Shop, first year
School: Accel Middle College

Q: Have you taken other classes at The Crucible?
A: Yeah, I started off in Jewelry and didn’t expect to go into welding but it’s been a really great opportunity. There are some similarities because you’re still working with metal, just bigger pieces. I feel like learning different skills from different mediums really helps.

2022 Fuego Youth Leadership

Omar Eksouzian, age 16

Fuego Youth Leader in Glass Blowing, first year
School: Latitude 37.8 High School

Q: Do you consider yourself an artist?
A: Yes. Everyone has all the tools at their disposal to be an artist. I mean, you can make art with things like your voice, your hands, anything. It’s just whether or not you choose to use them for that purpose. But anyone can be an artist. And you don’t have to have some fancy tools.

2022 Fuego Youth Leadership

Walter Yip, age 17

Fuego Youth Leader in MIG Welding and Bike Shop
School: Bentley School

Q: What are you most looking forward to this summer?
A: Making my own project. I have a lot of sketches of things I want to do. I’ thinking about sculptural bicycles.

Inspired by our 2022 Fuego Youth Leaders?

You can support programs like these and ensure youth of all backgrounds can access the industrial arts, no matter their financial need.

Keep Reading