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Thirty SMHS Chicano/Latino Studies students made sure that “Read Across America” Week was put into action in Santa Maria on Monday, Feb. 25th.

The students traveled to nearby Adams Elementary School to promote literacy by reading books written by or about Latinos to the youngsters.

Teacher Ricardo Valencia said the goals of the outreach effort were to honor the rich legacy of Latino history and culture, encourage youth to be proud of their heritage and promote higher education by having high school students share their aspirations.

“All Americans benefit from reading multicultural text and should have the chance to learn about their heritage,’’ Valencia said. “Also, students are more engaged academically when they can relate to what they read and learn.’’

The Saints were more than ready for the community service.

“I loved the fact that many children are so curious and smart. Many already know what they want to do. They are already thinking about high school and college. I felt so happy to go because I know that I am giving my all to give a good example to the new generation, the future.” – Carlota Placido, Senior.

“I would recommend this community service because it’s something that the kids will experience and later they can do the same when they get older. This is something that the community needs to see; have more people participate, help kids love books and help out with many more things.” – Angela Gomez, Junior .

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, Latino students make up nearly a quarter of the nation’s public school enrollment and are the fastest-growing segment of the school population. However, a study featured in the NY Times demonstrates that less than 5 percent of 3,400 reviewed children’s books were written by or about Latinos.

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