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Santa Maria High School Chicano/Latino Studies students have decided that sharing culture and promoting literacy is contagious.

They will continue their community-minded outreach efforts at local elementary schools throughout the year even though Latino Heritage Month ended Oct. 15.

History Teacher Ricardo Valencia and nearly 20 students completed their part of the national celebration Oct. 14 with a visit to Adams School where they served as role models to youngsters by reading children's books written by or about Latinos. The class also visited Sanchez Elementary School a few weeks ago.

Valencia and students can't wait for more opportunities.

"The SMHS scholars are eager to motivate and empower the next generation of future leaders,'' Valencia said.” Our outreach to local elementary schools, often where many SMHS students attended, allows high school students to share the rich legacy of Latino history, encourages all students to be proud of their heritage, and promotes higher education.''

For student Oscar Velasco, a former Adams School graduate, the experience is something he won't forget. "We got to expose students to Hispanic literacy,'' Velasco said. “I never had that growing up.''

Latino students comprise nearly a quarter of the nation's public school enrollment and are the fastest-growing segment of the school population, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

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