Teen Advisory Board hosts annual Boba and Brushes Event

Anna Feng and Avi Srinivasan

After a disappointing cancellation last year due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, students and Teen Advisory Board members are responding positively to the annual Boba and Brushes event held Thursday night at the Mitchell Park Community center.

The TAB — a Palo Alto teen council group of 12 members who plan monthly community-engaging events for teens — hosted the event.

Attendees of the event were offered boba tea supplied from Kung-Fu Tea, mochi donuts and other snacks, as well as activities such as painting and drawing. Additionally, various games were held such as a Disney-themed Kahoot that tested participants’ knowledge on classic fan-favorite characters and movies, along with recreational activities like ping-pong and pool.

Palo Alto High School sophomore David Tomz said he has never attended TAB events in the past but was drawn to the event because of the food and a chance to hang out with friends. 

“I just thought it would be fun [to come] and the boba obviously is a plus and just painting and being here with some friends,” Tomz said.

Despite occurring annually for the past four years, the event was cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic — making this year’s Boba and Brushes the first in-person in over two years. In preparation for the event, TAB president Clarice Wang said the TAB started planning in December, which involved weekly meetings on Wednesdays at the Mitchell Park Teen Center.

“Boba and Brushes was actually one of our annual events, so we do a lot of preparation,” Wang said. “Mostly, we wanted to think of what theme we want for this event, and how we can attract more people than previous years.”

According to Wang, Boba and Brushes is one the boards biggest events so far, with an 80-person attendee turnout that’s exceeded other events hosted earlier in the school year.

Although held in Palo Alto, students from a variety of different high schools across the Bay Area attended the event, including those from Sacred Heart and The Harker School. Paly senior Reese Ford said the community bonding between teens from different schools was pleasing to see.

“It’s opening up the community because people, especially in Palo Alto, from private schools and public schools rarely interact,” Ford said.

Wang echoed Ford’s sentiments by saying that bringing teens together is one of the main purposes of holding Boba and Brushes.

“That’s one of our missions as TAB — bridging the gap between teens in their community,” Wang said. “So, as you can see, people are coming together, they’re in their friend groups, but they’re also meeting new people.”

According to TAB Public Information Officer Ella Koehler, organizing events that students are interested in attending was a challenge. 

“Getting things to work and getting people to interact the way you think they’re going to interact is always hard,” Koehler said. “Because we have such a diverse age range that comes [to these events] the question becomes who is going to be your target audience. We say it’s teens, but we also have to make things very kid friendly.”

According to Wang, to advertise the event, the TAB posted a blurb announcement to schools through Schoology and email, as well as marketed on Instagram. Wang said that although marketing was challenging, members of the TAB found ways to make the process more manageable.

“Our team has students in all schools in the Palo Alto area like Sacred Heart, Castilleja, Paly, and Gunn and we were able to contact every school since people have their own networks,” Wang said. “So being able to branch out really helped a lot.”

Paly sophomore Sarah Sheaffer said she heard about the event from a friend and has enjoyed meeting new people while having the chance to bond over a shared interest.

“I think it’s definitely a great way to meet people because there’s a lot of activities that people can find similar interests over and hobbies,” Sheaffer said. “I like that it combines a lot of different schools because then you can meet people from other communities and stretches your reach a little bit more.”

TAB’s next event will be a “Palopalooza” — a rendition of Lollapalooza, a four-day music festival hosted annually in Chicago. Palopalooza will feature a game night similar to the Boba and Brushes version as well as many other activities including a parody of the Family Feud game show. It will be hosted in late April at the Mitchell Park Community Center.