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A conference to empower high school students to celebrate their culture, pursue higher education and challenge stereotypes is scheduled for Saturday, March 24.

Latinos Unidos Club members from Righetti, Santa Maria, Delta and Pioneer Valley High Schools organized the event that will be held from 8:20 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Santa Maria High School. Students are encouraged to bring their parents or guardians.

The day will feature workshops including “Creating a College Going Culture in SM,” “No Labels,” “Cultural Arts,” “Keeping Traditions Alive!,” “Love Your Lonjas,” “Helpful Distractions,” “Moviendo las caderas,” “Indigenous Pride,” and “Self-Defense and Life Choices.”

The workshops for parents will be offered in Spanish and English. In their workshops, parents will get to hear from a panel of students about their daily challenges. They will also discuss ways to be more involved in their students’ educational journey.

The Keynote Speaker will be Dr. Terrence J. Roberts, one of the “Little Rock Nine,” who desegregated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957. At age 15, he joined eight other students and became one of the first nine African-American students to go to a formerly segregated public high school in Little Rock.

“It is such an honor and inspiration to witness the collaboration and discussions that our students create when given the space and encouragement. This conference has allowed students from all across our district to work together and plan workshops that they feel are important and relevant. I know that this experience will mark the life of our students in ways that we may not see in this very moment.” –Patricia Villalobos, Latinos Unidos Club Advisor and RHS Spanish Teacher.

“As adult allies and teachers, we know how crucial it is to validate the knowledge and experiences of our youth. When students are given the opportunity to express their voices, we as a community can better support them to reach their dreams. This conference was created by students for students.” – Ricardo Valencia, Teacher, SMHS.

Students are fired up about the day’s educationally empowering agenda.

“Attending this conference will truly make a difference in one’s life because it offers valuable knowledge and unity among all the high schools in the Santa Maria school district.” -- Patricia Navarro, sophomore, Righetti HS.

“It is very important to attend the conference because it helps you and others come together, express yourself, and learn about your culture and other cultures.” -- Maria Garnica, senior, Delta HS.

“This conference is a great way for people to come together and help each other understand one another. It’s amazing how culture can bring people together despite our differences.” -- Gabriela Ramirez, junior, Pioneer Valley HS.

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.