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SMHS Students from a Chicano/Latino Course Promote Literacy back button

Written words honoring the rich legacy of Latino history and culture engaged the minds of youngsters at a local school this week - thanks to Santa Maria High School students from the Chicano/Latino Studies course.

Nearly 20 high school students promoted literacy by reading multicultural children’s books in Spanish and English to Sanchez Elementary School students.

The community outreach series is designed to promote the joy of reading, encourage youth to be proud of their heritage and support higher education by having high school students share their aspirations.

“Students are more engaged academically when they can relate to what they read and learn,’’ according to Ricardo Valencia, AVID and Chicano/Latino Studies Teacher.

Saints found the experience of reading books written by or about Latinos inspiring.

“It feels good to have the elementary students get excited about the opportunities in high school and for them to see us as role models,’’ said JR Roman, a senior.

“I felt proud to go back to my former elementary teacher’s classroom,’’ said Jesus Morales-Garcia, a junior. “As a result of this visit, my friend and I are coming back to Sanchez Elementary for a Cinco de Mayo celebration.’’

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 indicated that less than 4 percent of 3,400 reviewed children’s books were written by or about Latinos.

NONDISCRIMINATION POLICY: The Santa Maria Joint Union High School District is committed to ensuring equal, fair, and meaningful access to employment and education services. The SMJUHSD does not discriminate in any employment practice, education program, or educational activity on the basis and/or association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics of age, ancestry, color, disability, ethnicity, ethnic group identifications, gender, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, marital, family or parental status, medical condition, military or veteran status, nationality, national origin, immigration status, political affiliation, pregnancy and related conditions, race, religion, retaliation, sex (including sexual harassment), sexual orientation, or any other basis prohibited by California state and federal nondiscrimination laws respectively. Not all bases of discrimination will apply to both education services and employment. If you believe you have been subjected to discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying, immediately contact the District’s Discrimination, Equity and Title IX Compliance Officer Mr. Kevin R. Platt at 2560 Skyway Drive, Santa Maria, CA 93455, (805) 922-4573 or You may request a copy of SMJUHSD’s Uniform Complaint Procedures, Non-Discrimination Policies, Sexual Harassment Policies or click here.