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Almost twenty years ago, a teacher at Timpview High School named José Enriquez created the Latinos in Action course, sowing the seeds that would mature into a national organization. Latinos in Action, for those unfamiliar, is a program that sees our Hispanic students for who they are and what they can become– leaders, innovators, full of potential. 

For Hispanic Heritage month, we thought it apt to visit Timpview High School, the birthplace of Latinos in Action, to celebrate the program and speak to students about previous Latinos in Action projects. However, more importantly, we want to survey the horizon for future student led-projects here and across the district and highlight the great work these committees and students accomplish.

To paraphrase the Latinos In Action (LIA) Mission Statement, Latinos in Action is a year-long elective course using an asset-based approach to bridge Latino students’ graduation and opportunity gap, working from within the educational system to create positive change. The program focuses on four pillars: leveraging personal and cultural assets, excelling in education, serving the community, and developing leadership skills.

In 2015, the White House Initiative on Excellence in Hispanic Education awarded LIA the White House Bright Spot for Hispanic Education. It’s a program with invaluable merits for our Hispanic students.

Throughout September, in Timpview’s Latinos in Action courses, students familiarized themselves with each other, developing a collaborative base to organize events. They’ve recently held an election for presidencies in four different committees. These committees are Professional, Service, Fundraiser, and Social committees. Each committee offers an opportunity to practice leadership, project management, and service related to their unique assets and goals.

Their class (as of writing this article) was in the middle of identifying projects and goals for the year. To do so, they examined previous projects, seeing where they can either extend or improve on old projects or what services they can offer in the upcoming year.

One student shared an example of one project from last year in which their committee sponsored an older person through Sub for Santa who needed clothing and other donatable goods. They ran Concession Stands at all Timpview sporting events to raise money. They then used the funds raised to purchase as many donatable goods as possible. Students come up with similar projects spanning the year in their committees, learning leadership and using their skills.

One upcoming project, for example, came from the Service Committee, which wants to develop a translation service across their school. It’s a unique service opportunity, and it’s the sort that few students could devise and offer over a school year– but projects like this actualize through Latinos in Action regularly.

Students then shared their influences on joining Latinos in Action, contemplating where the experience might direct them after high school. 

“I had an English Teacher that helped me a lot when I moved here,” one student said. 

“This teacher had a massive influence on me. She taught me English, but she taught me more than that. She taught me how to use my talents. She told me that speaking Spanish was an asset. I want to become an English Language Learning teacher and give forward to future students, like how she helped me.”

The program makes our students more aware of how their experiences and backgrounds are assets for service and leadership. One student spoke about her experience learning to adapt to life in the United States:

“It’s a massive shock, moving to another country. It can feel like you’re living two lives. Holding those two lives in both hands is hard, but you can learn much from both.

“It’s cool that I can take these opportunities and lessons from my culture or school and share them with my different communities.”

Keep an eye out for more stories from our Latinos in Action groups. Or, read our previous article on one student in Latinos in Action at Dixon who smashed a literacy challenge set by their advisor.

Spencer Tuinei
  • Communication Specialist
  • Spencer Tuinei