Jonathan Brown,

From left to right: Vivianne Ruiz (eighth grade Hobby student), Hobby Principal Chase Sander, and Mariah Bustillos (eighth grade Hobby student)

Giving back can often be overlooked as a one-sided affair. However, that’s far from the truth. In fact, this story shows how giving back builds communities and creates future leaders and stewards.

At YES Prep Hobby Secondary, our students are using their creative skills to help drive business back into the communities they call home.

Eighth graders Vivianne Ruiz and Mariah Bustillos are founding class members of YES Prep Hobby Secondary with a passion for art. Both are active in the art club and were hand-selected by Chase Sander, principal of Hobby Secondary, to participate in a unique partnership between the school and Hobby Area District, led by their Executive Director Beth Strope.

Principal Sander sat with us to describe how the opportunity arose. “Hobby Area District has been extremely supportive of YES Prep students”, he said. “Last spring, they talked to us about wanting to get some artwork from students with this idea of #eatlocal and #shoplocal that they could share out in local businesses and provide awareness for the Hobby area. It’s definitely the first of its kind.”

The idea stemmed from how YES Prep Hobby Secondary could assist in helping the community get back to a sense of normalcy after the height of the pandemic and help drive economic growth back into Hobby area businesses.

Strope was ecstatic to work directly with our school.

“We’re so excited about this collaboration. Principal Sander and I talked about this last year, believe it or not. So, to have it come to fruition is exciting because we talked about trying to have a collaboration between the [Hobby] students and the district because of your community-based approach to teaching a student to be really good stewards of their community.”


Hobby students, Vivianne (left) and Mariah (right) showcasing their artwork to be displayed throughout the Hobby area.

The artwork made by Vivianne and Mariah differ in appearance, however, both draw in awareness in positive and relatable ways.

Vivianne’s masterpiece connects to the community through highlighting some of Houston’s most renowned landmarks and events — like the NASA Space Center and Houston Rodeo to the iconic “Be Someone” graffiti mural that was located on I-45.

Mariah’s work of art brings out splashes of vibrant colors that immediately catch your attention and leave you with feelings of positivity. One can imagine making that trip down to the local farmers market to grab your fresh produce shows support for local businesses and your health.

Strope went into detail on how impressed she was with the artwork.

“So we’re really excited to have that artwork. I have to tell you, when the artwork was brought into the office, I was just STUNNED. I didn’t want to give it up! I know we have to display it but we actually took some of our pictures down just to hang it up and see what it looked like in our office. We wanted to keep it here.”



Both pieces of artwork will be shared across the Hobby area, courtesy of the Hobby Area District. The coolest part? It will have the student’s name and campus to accredit the work throughout the community.

First, there will be smaller replica versions of Vivianne and Mariah’s art that will be distributed to several businesses so they can place artwork on tables and in windows, so when a customer walks into a restaurant or shop, they can prominently see the students’ artwork. What a great way to showcase our YES Prep students’ talents out in the community!

In addition, there are current establishments such as The DoubleTree and Marriot Hotel who have already given permission, with the addition of the possibility of having the work included in the William P. Hobby Airport temporary displays. “We’re actually right now trying to talk to the airport system to see if they can include the artwork in one of their temporary displays…we think the students would be proud to have it in the airport”, Strope said.


YES Prep Hobby is proud to be building student leaders within the community. This level of giving back not only serves the community but inspires the YES Prep Hobby staff to continue pushing for new opportunities to get students involved with local initiatives. “We want our students to be leaders in the community and create waves of change”, said Principal Sander. “We will always seek ways to empower our kids to find ways to lean into the traits they possess so that we can help and support them”.

The efforts from Vivianne and Mariah are perfect examples of what’s to come for the school’s continued partnership with community organizations.