Students Narrate the Crisis in Education

Last modified on 2011-07-02 17:08:19 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Students and teachers from the Math, Science, and Technology Magnet Academy at Roosevelt High School ignored the bell schedule on Tuesday. That’s because the school organized the first annual education conference: Deconstructing the Crisis in Education where speakers and student presenters addressed issues of social justice in relation to the educational crisis.

On this day, students became teachers, as they presented workshops that touched on school privatization and segregation, drop outs, and standardized testing.

Junior Irma Galicia and her group produced a video for their workshop presentation because she says video can do much more than explain facts. “It is one thing to tell someone what is occurring but a whole lot different to present it to them visually and let them intake the information and make their own conclusion,” said Galicia.

Like many other students, Irma says the effects of education cuts have been shocking and frustrating, but this has also motivated her to speak out. “It’s like you grow up and everyone around you is telling you you’re going to do good in school, you’re going to go to college and be successful,” she said. “And you grow up trying to live up to those expectations but it gets to the point when you finally realize that not everything is under your control.”

Watch the video produced by students Mary Jane Barajas, Nichelin Caballo, Robert Cardenas, Irma Galilica, Liseth Hernandez, Kevin Martinez, Joselin Oliva, Jonathan Torres, Chris Vega

Check your doorstep, Boyle Heights Beat Newspaper arrives soon

Last modified on 2012-10-03 18:03:47 GMT. 2 comments. Top.

It may not be the best time for newspapers, but for high school students in Boyle Heights, that didn’t matter. When an announcement seeking writers for a new youth newspaper went around town, over 70 students showed up to see what it was all about.

Six months later, the quarterly bilingual newspaper Boyle Heights Beat/ El Pulso de Boyle Heights is ready to be delivered to Boyle Heights homes on Saturday, June 4.

“When I see my name in the paper, it’ll make me feel successful to see that I did this. I’ll feel pretty proud,” said Franklin Granados, a junior at Mendez Learning Center.

For the final 14 students who contributed to the newspaper’s first edition, it’s been a learning experience. For me, an advisor at the paper, it’s been a pleasure— not only to see them grow as journalists but also become passionate about providing a voice for their community.

“The issues we picked for the first issue were decided because they affect us individually,” said Cinthia Gonzalez, junior at Roosevelt High School.
“This is important because we’re addressing issues in the community and informing them about it and also letting their voices tell the story,” added Jonathan Olivares, who also attends Roosevelt.

At our semiweekly meetings, which take place at the Boyle Heights Technology Youth Center and the La Opinión newsroom in downtown, student reporters discuss story ideas and learn journalistic skills that have taken them on interviews with L.A. City Councilmember Jose Huizar, local musicians La Santa Cecilia and community members making an impact in Boyle Heights, to name a few.

I’m such a fan of these kids who in the middle of exams, college applications, homework, and, oh yeah, teenage life, they manage to squeeze in interviews, meetings and produce stories. And it’s not just dedication– they’ve shown determination. During an interview with Huizar, where reporters got a chance to experience a mini-press conference, the councilman said he had never revealed so much information about the proposed Wyvernwood Apartments redevelopment project to anyone, after one of our reporters remained persistent with her questions. I guess we’re doing something right…

For a few weeks, we’ve been waiting for the published edition–and it’s finally here! Next Tuesday, the youth reporters will have a chance to share their work with other youth at CenterScene’s Narrating Community: Youth Storytelling in Image and Word, an event held at The California Endowment, who funds the newspaper project.

But we also want to celebrate with our community! The Boyle Heights Beat will host a community meeting Saturday, June 11 at 10am at the Boyle Heights Technology Youth Center. We welcome you to voice your concerns about your neighborhood and share your thoughts with our youth reporters.

Reporters interviewed councilmember Jose Huizar (center). Here with advisors (myself on the right) and co-editor and publisher Michelle Levander (right of Huizar).

  • Read more about the Boyle Heights Beat Project at USC Annenberg News.
  • Visit the Boyle Heights Beat website
  • Find Boyle Heights Beat on Facebook and Twitter
  • The Boyle Heights Beat project is a collaboration between USC Annenberg and La Opinión and is edited and published by Michelle Levander, director of USC Annenberg’s California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships and Pedro Rojas, executive editor of La Opinión. A group of advisors and coordinators complete the team.

    Boyle Heights Students and Educators Rally Against Education Cuts

    Last modified on 2011-05-16 19:42:46 GMT. 1 comment. Top.

    Photo by Mike Roe/KPCC (SCPR)

    Last Friday thousands of Los Angeles Unified School District educators, parents, students and supporters filled Pershing Square to protest against layoffs and education budget cuts– a matter they called “A State of Emergency.”

    Supporters from Roosevelt High School, Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez Learning Center and other schools in Boyle Heights took to the streets and joined the downtown rally.

    Students at Mendez Learning Center started things early as they staged at sit-in at their school Friday morning. At around 10am, they began to walk out of the school headed to Pershing Square and escorted by police. “We walked out to stop the education budget cuts,” said junior Franklin Granados. “The class of 2012 are being limited and will have no college corner or college counselors because there’s no funding.”

    Granados said after rallying at Pershing Square, students returned to school once police warned them of truancy citations.

    At about 2:30pm, a group from Roosevelt High School, Hollenbeck Middle School and possibly nearby elementary schools gathered at the Soto Street Metro Gold Line Station where teachers, students, parents and other district employees spoke about the education crisis before taking the train to join the rally at Pershing Square.

    The California Teachers Assn. organized the rally to draw attention to the $12 billion the state faces in potential cuts to education. In LAUSD, over 5,000 employees have been given preliminary layoff notices this year.

    Students from Mendez Learning Center walk to Pershing Square- Photo from Felicita Gonzalo Mendez Facebook page

    Group from Roosevelt High School rallies before heading to Pershing Square

    Student Activists March on May Day

    Last modified on 2011-06-18 03:01:54 GMT. 1 comment. Top.

    Young protestors joined crowds at this year’s May Day march in Downtown L.A.

    It’s 8:30 on Sunday morning, and 28 Roosevelt High School Juniors gather in front of school, all in white t-shirts. Several hold signs. Others apply sunscreen. And one holds a loudspeaker. Noisy and oddly alert for a non-school day, they wait to hear their names as U.S. history teacher Mariana Ramirez calls roll.

    Nine o’clock hits and they make their way to the metro Gold Line station at Soto St, headed for this year’s May Day march.

    For the majority, today will be their first protest event where they will voice their opinions on immigration reform, equal rights and education cuts.

    I’ve attended the May Day marches before, but never with such an energetic group. 

    These kids were determined to speak out, but their journey wasn’t as smooth as expected.

    As they got off the train in downtown, students were greeted by police officers who told them they weren’t allowed to bring sticks or large posters on metro rails. They reluctantly took their posters apart but still continued towards the crowd that gathered on Broadway and Olympic.

    Watch their journey below.

      Several students filmed and interviewed participants at the event as they became citizen journalists for a day. I will select a couple of student projects to feature on Mis Neighbors so look out for them in the next coming weeks.

    What Kids Can Do

    Last modified on 2011-03-13 01:54:16 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

    As much as I hate hearing it, I’m all grown up- and only getting older. My name now consists of Miss, m’am, lady and even señora (in my 20s, really?).

    These are the kinds of things you hear when you work with kids and teens. But in spite of the old fart name-calling, ( which is really only polite titles that make me feel well, like an old fart) I very much enjoy working with these esquincles.

    Now that I’m a “grown up” I find myself in awe of the things kids can do. From dodging a gang hitting them up on the street, to sharing a deeply personal poem they may be too scared to share with their parents, these kids mount up courage and go for it!

    Let me not forget to mention the awesome group of youth journalists I help mentor who are working hard to bring a community newspaper to Boyle Heights-go pulpos! (inside joke).

    Talking about our awesome Boyle Heights youth, I want to share a digital book created by the 2010 senior class at Roosevelt High School, School of Law and Government. In our Global Village: Boyle Heights through the Eyes of Its Youth was a project introduced by What Kids Can Do, a nonprofit organization that helps produce and distribute books with youth as co-authors. Last year, this global service-learning program gave an opportunity to 110 Boyle Heights students to document their surroundings through their eyes.

    Flip through the book in fullscreen!

    Young Artists Inspired by Nature

    Last modified on 2011-01-19 00:22:15 GMT. 1 comment. Top.

    Parents, teachers, kids, and supporters squeezed
    in at Un Solo Sol Kitchen last Saturday for the opening reception of a new art exhibit. The restaurant opted for fruit punch instead of wine and had simple, bite-size appetizers to cater to their artists who are middle school students from Our Lady of Talpa School showing their art for the first time.

    I spoke to a few artists and their art teacher, Ramona Gomez who also has a few pieces in the exhibit.

    Listen here: Talpa Artists

    Proceeds of artwork will benefit Our Lady of Talpa School Art Enrichment Fund Program.
    Exhibit will be open until Feb. 8

    Un Solo Sol Kitchen
    1818 E. 1st St.
    Los Angeles, Ca 90033

    The Corrido Of L.A.

    Last modified on 2011-11-09 21:21:09 GMT. 1 comment. Top.

    When I heard Ozomatli was giving a free show at LACMA, I was there. Then I heard kids from several L.A. middle schools and high schools would be performing their own corridos with them on stage, in an improv session. I suddenly wanted to be back in high school, writing my own corrido and submitting it for an opportunity to perform with Ozomatli. I wondered what it would sound like?

    Over 80 submissions were made for The Corrido of L.A. project led by the Los Angeles County Museum for the Arts and USC in celebration of the Mexican Revolution centennial, but only a few were chosen to perform with the band… several of them, our neighbors.

    The Corrido of LA from El Primo on Vimeo.

    Photography by Armando Velez

    For a complete list of corrido submissions click here.

    Chiquita pero picosa!

    Last modified on 2011-11-23 02:51:11 GMT. 1 comment. Top.

    The Mariachi Plaza was decorated with mariachis in their charro suits at the Santa Cecilia Festival on Tuesday. But Carla Cisneros stood out on stage, not only because of her young age, 14, but because she was the only female in her mariachi group. I caught her right after she performed- still nervously laughing. It’s nice to see young women thrive in the male-dominated world of mariachis.

    The East L.A. Classic

    Last modified on 2011-01-23 07:47:15 GMT. 1 comment. Top.

    I interrupted practice time at Roosevelt HS and Garfield HS as they got ready to face each other for the 76th time at the East L.A. Classic.  I wanted to find out what this face-off was all about. Although I grew up in Boyle Heights, I didn’t attend Roosevelt or Garfield, I got bussed out to the valley. So, I always wondered… fierce rivalry or friendly competition?

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