Born Out of Struggle (Part 1)


Editor’s Note: The following article was written by a youth reporter who is a graduate of the Urban Youth International Journalism Program.

The Little Village Lawndale High School was born out of a struggle, the 19-day hunger strike of mothers, grandmothers and students who knew the neighborhood needed a new high school and who were willing to fight for it. One of the schools within the school is Social Justice, where students learn about these kinds of struggles. As we all await the first graduation ceremony, here is what some Social Justice students have to say about their experiences and where they see their lives going.

Part I: Maxi Granja and Gloria Campos Q: What are some real life connections you have made by what you’ve learned in social justice high school?
Maxi: Well, in Rico’s class, we’ve been learning mathematics and how we can apply it to real life situations. Like in the Jena Six situation, we were able to find the probability of the jury being an all-white jury out of the whole population in the Jena community. So that’s the way that we related it to real life situations and mathematics. Gloria: Well, in our chemistry class with Mr. MD, we have connected science to real life issues. Like say we use cream: There could be chemicals in there and since we apply it to ourselves, we’re affecting our bodies. So we found ways to use healthy substances to make a cream that won’t harm our body and we also did that with lip glosses and we helped other people learn how to make different lip glosses because many (commercial products) have different things that can harm our bodies.

Q: What are some things you have improved in and why?
Maxi: One thing I have improved in is speech giving. I used to hate giving speeches and I used to be a nervous wreck while I was giving speeches. So I think I’ve improved and just overall, I’ve become more outgoing because I used to be shy and just really quiet. And now I think I’ve come a long way from that. I think I’m more outgoing now, hopefully. Gloria: I also think I’ve improved in my communicating skills because before I would also get nervous being in front of audiences. But now I can present in front of audiences without being nervous and I’m communicating with more people now. Also, before I used to hang out with only a certain type of people but now I talk to more people because I know you can get different feedback from different types of people. Before I might have been close-minded, I guess, but not any more, because now I know that different people live in the community. I’ve gotten to meet new people and that’s cool.

Q: What are some things you regret not having done in your four years of school?
Maxi: Over the four years of high school, I regret not getting more involved with extra curricular activities. I’ve only been in a few and I’ve found out that they’re really fun and they’re a good way for me to spend my free time. I just wish I had gotten more involved so I’d have more to put in my college applications. Gloria: Something I regret not doing is not joining volleyball in my first three years of high school because I really enjoyed it when I was in grammar school. I noticed that in high school, I started becoming lazy. Starting since freshman year, I started becoming lazy and I just didn’t want to join sports but I wish I would have done it, because I know that I would be a better player now that I’m in senior year. I also wish I would have talked to more people because I think I would have grown more as a person. And I also regret not getting applications early for college and looking into colleges more, because I’ve noticed that now, in senior year, I got more stressed out and everything just piled up and I felt like I couldn’t do anything. So I wish I had started early on that.

Q: What are some things that held you back from performing your best in school?
Maxi: The main thing that held me back from performing my best in school was the transition between the amount of homework we get from elementary school teachers and high school teachers. It became a lot more in the work length and I wasn’t used to it. So, I gave in to laziness and I decided not to do my homework for a majority of the time during my freshman year. But eventually, I got used to it and started doing my work with a lot more effort and that’s it. Gloria: Well, one thing that affected me was, at first, in freshman year, I started getting used to being in high school and then in the middle of freshman year, my dad passed away. So that was something that affected my school work. But even though I was grieving, I still tried to do my best because I knew that he wanted me to do my best. Now, sometimes I still grieve and sometimes it still affects me in school but I just keep trying to do my best.

Q: What helped you stay in school?
Maxi: My brother was the main reason I decided to stay in school. Well, it wasn’t really an option whether I stayed in school or not. It’s just that my parents are like, ‘You’re going to go to school and that’s it.’ But my brother played a big role since he is successful in school. Gloria: Well, one thing that helped me stay in school was my mom because I feel that I really want to help her and the only way of doing that is by graduating and getting a good job. And also because I have four sisters and only two of them actually graduated from high school and went to college but didn’t finish college and two of them didn’t graduate from high school at all. So, I wanted to be different from them and actually get a good job and graduate from college and help my mom for the things she gave me, for the years. And I want to support her because without my dad, I know she needs a lot of support money-wise.

Tags: , , , ,
Categories: UYIJP