Latinos in Action serve school district
In their matching black polo shirts, the Latinos in Action students flipped through stacks of elementary school work as they worked with the English Language Learners at McPolin Elementary. They lined the tables of the cafeteria, covering mini-lessons such as pronunciation or reading comprehension.
On any given day, the activity the might look different, but the high school leadership class Latinos in Action will be somewhere providing translations or peer-tutoring, an effort to incorporate and bolster the Hispanic community in Park City. One day, the group might attend a Parent-Teacher Nights, another day, the group might help register a student or help an elementary student with their homework.
"We are so happy to provide program for students who are active bilinguals," said Anna Williams, the teacher for Latinos in Action. "This is a place for them to showcase their bilingual contributions and capital."
"Our Latino students had been placed in remediation classes before this program," she added. "There weren’t many opportunities for them to use this incredible linguistic capital. Latinos in Action provided that opportunity, the chance to go into other schools in district and serve as leaders."
The Latinos in Action program was originally created by an Alpine School District administrator and a Brigham Young University professor. When the creators held an informational seminar to spread word about the program, Williams was there.
"We attended this seminar, and it instantly sounded like wonderful program," Williams said. " after learning more, we recognized the need for this program in the Park City School District.
The students who join the leadership class are required to be bilingual and must keep their grades up. Every year, students are interviewed before they can join the class.
Daniela Montejano, the co-president of the group and a PCHS senior, is in her second year with Latinos in Action. She knew the students in the program since she first started at the high school, hoping to join the group as a junior.
"I heard about the group and it sounded really cool," Montejano said. "They looked so united, helping the community. I felt inspired by it."
Montejano is not the only student seeing the impact.
"When little kids come up to me and tell me they look up to me that feels really good," added fellow co-president Ketzel Morales. "A lot of Latino people in the community have told me they are glad to have someone like us to support them and show we care."
Juan Zarate, a junior in his first year with Latinos in Action, said the group helps dispel stereotypes about Hispanics.
"Seeing these kids come in and take time to sit down with high school students to practice their vowel sounds, it shows you these kids do want help," Zarate said. "They want help and that’s when I feel like, ‘Wow, these kids want to do better.’"
"I feel like I’m making a change," he added. "I’m breaking a stereotypical barrier by showing people that we can help and we are a part of the community. That’s the change I see."
In its fourth year at Park City High School, Latinos in Action continues to grow with more than 50 students in the school district participating and offering translation services. Treasure Mountain Middle School incorporated the program the same year as the high school under Nora Buchanan, the schools’ Latino Outreach Coordinator. And this year, Ecker Hill Middle School is joining the fold, creating a similar program to give Hispanic students an opportunity to take on larger roles in the community.
" having these students helping, we are encouraging Latino families to participate," Williams said. "There is no more language barrier. If I, as a Spanish-speaking parent, know there will be translator there so I can communicate with teacher, I will be more likely to attend.
"These students serve as a liaison between the schools and the community."
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