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The Cub

The student news site of Sedro-Woolley High School

The Cub

The student news site of Sedro-Woolley High School

Latinos in action class coming to SWHS

Photo by Dr. Jose Enriquez
Photo by Dr. Jose Enriquez

A new Latinos in Action class is coming to SWHS starting in the upcoming school year 2024-2025. This is an accredited elective to help teach leadership skills and many other skills to the latino community. LIA has been on a journey since 2001, and it is now seen throughout 15 different states across the country.

Students, not just at Sedro-Woolley High School, have expressed that there has always been a gap between races in schools. Dr. Jose Enriquez, CEO and founder of Latinos In Action, started this program to show the talents our Latinos have and to show that the struggles the education system puts on our multi-race students can be overcome.

“You think everybody’s just on the same boat, but you quickly realize that sometimes systems and organizations have this layer of bureaucracy and a layer of just so many policies and procedures, that sometimes block what we want for our youth,” said Dr. Enriquez.

While creating this program, Dr. Enriquez saw this problem first hand. “Latino youth were disengaged and disenfranchised at school. In addition, they often shunned their cultural heritage, which is at the heart of every Latino youth’s drive to excel,” said Dr. Enriquez.

It certainly wasn’t easy for Dr. Enriquez to have gotten as far as he did, and to create the platform for growth that he has today. “If you create a platform where there’s thriving, then everybody thrives in the community and the city,” said Dr. Enriquez. He tells us about his challenges and what he had to overcome to bring this creation to life.“I had to really knock a lot of doors and prove to people that this is a leadership course, and Latinos are brilliant and talented, and they have so much to offer your community, your school, your city.”

Since hearing about this future class, students have shown their excitement towards Latinos In Action. Leslie Rivera, a multilingual (MLL) student here at Sedro-Woolley High School, said “I was very interested since many Latinos and people who speak Spanish will be there, and it would be good for us all to work together as Latinos [that we are].”
“Realmente me intereso mucho ya que muchos latinos y personas que hablan español estarán ahí y sería bueno que todos convivieramos como latinos [que somos].”

Students who have experienced this class first hand can testify to its benefits. Greicy Jimenez, a senior at Mount Vernon High School, has been involved in this course since her sophomore year. “My top three things I like about LIA are the friendships I’ve made, the events we throw and the family we grew into,” said Jimenez.

The staff involved also greatly appreciate what this class will bring to our school in upcoming years. “I feel like that [belonging] piece was maybe missing a little bit here, so I’m excited at the opportunity to help foster that and support students to develop that cultural component and leadership component,” said Magdalena Bagwell, the CTE director at Sedro-Woolley High School.

Bagwell continues to say that she has seen students struggling with their heritage in our own school. “I feel like we have so many talented students who are not recognized and don’t feel ownership necessarily in the school and community,” said Bagwell.

When asked for feedback on how Latino students have been treated in schools, student answers were primarily negative. “I feel like we don’t get recognized for our culture. Not just us, but other cultures,” said Evelyn Cortez-Cruz, a junior at Sedro-Woolley High School. “We need more activities, cause I feel like other schools do other things, like multi-cultural night and dances.” Taking those feelings into consideration this year, for the first time, Sedro-Woolley High School created a Folklorico dance group to bring more representation to the community by including Cascade Middle School as well.

Dr. Enriquez hopes to one day rectify this disconnection that Latinos feel with their heritage. “As human beings we want to feel needed, we want to feel wanted, we want to feel like we’re important,” said Dr. Enriquez.

Feelings of disconnection and separation start at a young age. Helping students grow stronger into their culture will make them feel represented and confident in who they are later on in life. “The number one thing to me that helps our Latino students grow, not only in leadership but service, is having them tutor a younger student,” said Dr. Enriquez.

Dr. Enriquez wants to prevent the growing separation that youth feel from their roots, as he sees similar issues in younger students. “When you step in front of a young elementary kid – kinder, first graders, second – they still look up to you. They take everything that you say as like a “hey, you’re my mentor, ” and that moment is delicious. It’s one of the richest moments anybody can have when somebody sees you as the champion, hero, role model, or mentor, because then you start to learn what life is really about,” said Dr. Enriquez.

Sandra Davila, the former Migrant student advocate for Sedro-Woolley School District, expresses her displeasure for the way Latino students have been treated. “I feel like the LatinX community here in Sedro-Woolley High School has not been represented [enough]. I’m hoping that by having Latinos in Action, our community will be better represented,” said Davila.

By having this class, we can help students grow with a better connection to education and more encouragement to become future leaders.

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