White House

Broward Schools Launches ‘Latinos in Action'

It’s a college prep course, a cultural awareness seminar, and a leadership training class all rolled into one package called Latinos in Action.

Broward County Public Schools announced today that six high schools will offer the elective course next school year. It’s the brainchild of Dr. Jose Enriquez, who works for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

“The goal of this class is to educate not only our students and to help them know how powerful and amazing and intelligent and brilliant they are and how much they can give back to the young ones,” Dr. Enriquez said, “But also to educate the populace, help people see the Latino community and Latino youth in a whole different light, that they’re serving, they’re leading, they’re college-bound.”

Enriquez met with a group of students which has already signed up to take Latinos in Action next year at Flanagan High School in Pembroke Pines. Cuban immigrant Karen Arguelles says the adjustment to life in America would’ve been easier if there had been someone like her to lean on.

“I used to be ashamed of my culture, I know I would try to dress up as American as I could feel and I tried to do everything as my American friends would,” Arguelles said. “Coming into middle school I started making friends with other Hispanics and I started feeling more of a pride towards my culture and that’s really what I want to bring to the class.”

The class will be partly about empowerment, about helping immigrant Hispanic kids find their footing in American culture.

Announcing the new course Wednesday, the superintendent of Broward Public School, Robert Runcie, said it will teach leadership through peer mentoring. The high school students will also work with middle and elementary school kids.

"Hispanic students who are struggling to learn the language, adjust to the culture, by dealing with peers and other students who have gone through that kind of struggle and challenge before, it’s really gonna help them to be a lot more successful,” Runcie said.

The students who have signed up for Latinos in Action have no shortage of enthusiasm. They seem to approach the class with a missionary zeal to lend an experienced hand to younger students from similar backgrounds.

"Helping them out and letting them know that they can achieve great things is an amazing experience and I want to be part of it," said David Rodriguez, a Flanagan High student.
The pilot high schools offering the class next year are Flanagan, Hollywood Hills, Cypress Bay, Everglades, McArthur, and West Broward.

Runcie says he expects the program will take off and spread to other high schools, and eventually, to other cultures. With a burgeoning Haitian community, Runcie says there’s a need to expand the concept.

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