Sword & Shield

Latinos in Action challenges stereotypes

Sofia Agusti Cordova, Staff Writer

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Although, Hispanic Heritage month is coming to an end, the very first class of Latinos In Action of South Plantation High school has just began.
“My short term vision of the Latinos In Action class is that the inaugural class sets the foundation by completing service projects with Plantation Park Elementary, organizing leadership with class officials, and that every student is making learning gains,” said Ricardo Marino, LIA (Latinos In Action) teacher.
This may be the first year of LIA at South, but the non-profit organization first took shape in Utah, 2001 by Dr. Jose Enriquez. From there, it has spread to over 110 schools across Utah, Idaho, Washington, Texas and Florida. On the official website of LIA, their mission statement says the class’s purpose is to empower Latino youth and prepare them for college.
“LIA will prep me for responsible tasks I will face in the future,” said Ahytor De Diego, Senior and LIA secretary. “It’s different than other classes because every Latino in here comes from different backgrounds, and we all connect.”
Marino was handpicked by Christine Henschel, Principal, to start the program at SPHS, a task he welcomed with open arms.
“I’m seeing a progress in here. I see students that use to never speak in other classes speak more; kids who never ran for a position of leadership or office start to run for positions in here; kids embarrassed of their English start to speak more in English,” Marino said.
The class isn’t only just to help Latinos earn better grades, but to help them connect within their culture and other Latino cultures. Natalie Irizarry, a senior in LIA, is using the class to learn about her own culture and others. “I don’t look Hispanic to some people,” she said. “So there are times where there will be a group of Latinas in my class that I want to be able to make friends with but I feel uncomfortable because I feel like they’ll judge me based on my looks.” The class shows that Latinos come in all shapes, sizes and colors; not every hispanic fits one stereo-typical hispanic ‘look.’
Every student’s story is different. LIA gives students a chance for their stories to be heard. Balvino Garcia, a senior who recently moved to America from Guatemala, is using LIA to reach out to other kids in a situation similar like hers.
“I heard we were going to help elementary kids who were new to this country,” Balvino said. “I know what they’re going through, and it’s scary to come to a new country you don’t know the language of, but I want them to know that they can do it because I’m doing it too.”
Although many people do not know about the class or assume it’s just a “Latino Only” club, it’s actually much more.
“Nobody really knows this class and I think that’s really great because that way, when it does become more known, people can see all of the accomplishments we did,” said Marino, who also said
“My long term vision is to hold multiple sections of LIA so every Latino student can be part of it.”

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Latinos in Action challenges stereotypes