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SMHS Latino Heritage Month back button

Chicano and Latino history will be on the move Wednesday as high school students travel to a local elementary school to share culture and promote literacy for Latino Heritage Month.

The hour-long celebration starts at 9 a.m. and involves more than 20 students from the Santa Maria High School Chicano/Latino Studies class. They will read children's books written by or about Latinos to youngsters at nearby Sanchez Elementary School.

SMHS History Teacher, Ricardo Valencia, believes the outreach allows students to share the rich legacy of Latino history, encourages them to be proud of their heritage and promotes higher education.

"Everyone benefits from reading multicultural text,'' said Valencia, who also read books to younger Santa Maria students before graduating from SMHS in 2001. "Students who see themselves and can relate to what they read and learn are often more engaged academically. It's important to share the experience I enjoyed and keep it alive.''

Senior, Kimberly Garcia, and the entire class are eager to share Chicano and Latino heritage. "It is going to be a very special and exciting morning,'' Garcia said.

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. A recent study showed that less than four percent of 3,400 reviewed children's books were written by or about Latinos.

National Hispanic Heritage Month, which recognizes the contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans, is observed throughout the country from September 15 through October 15.

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