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Latino Arts and Culture Workshops

Stay in School Quinceanera Program

For 20 days in the fall 2016 and spring 2017 Latino middle school students, boys and girls from Garden City and Nampa took part in motivational and educational workshops based on Latino arts & culture and social issues pertinent to teens.

The group did an art project that included creative writing, drawing, painting, and collage. They also attended ballroom dancing classes.

They took part in social issues discussions and activities such as health & nutrition, peer pressure, and college information.

There were three field trips to Boise State University: In the fall, they took part in the Science Festival where they did art activities related to STEM. In the spring, they took part at Bronco Days that included a campus tour and inspirational presentations by college students. Also in the spring they were invited to attend a theater workshop with a group of professional actors. BSU then feed them a nice dinner and later the group got to watch the instructors or professional actors perform.

The program concluded with the parent recital and presentations at two community festivals including Dia de Muertos at the JUMP building in Boise.

The Essential Question that guided our projects’ focus was:

How do learning about our own identity helps us find comfort in who we are as a community?

How do learning about our own identity helps us find comfort in who we are as a community?
By working on their self-identity art project beginning with a self-description essay including lifelong goals, the students learned about themselves. Later they worked with artist Bobby Gaytan and created art pieces related to the Mexican cultural tradition of Dia de Muertos. Their colorful art pieces were displayed at the exhibition at the JUMP building during the DDM festival that attracted over 1,000 people! The students were honored to be able to present their works of art and their dance to their community.

In the spring, the group had an opportunity to attend a bilingual play presented by Teatro Milagro from Portland Oregon. In preparation to watch the play, the students learned about the play’s historical background, read the script, and learned a song related to the subject of the play. The day of the performance the students took a theater workshop with the professional artists. When the time came to watch the play, the students were not only familiar with the play and its historical background, but also with the actors. This experience contributed to their awareness and understanding of their lives in relation to their community.

At the conclusion of the project, students responded to questions related to the identified Standards:

Several Anchor Standards were met:
#5 – Develop and refine artistic techniques and work presentation – They worked on their art pieces description refining their public speaking skills. They also practiced their formal dance regularly in preparation to their final presentation at the Parent Recital and other community presentations.
#6 – Performing: Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work – The students wrote an essay based on their own personal life experiences and created art related to this essay.
#8 – Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work – The students attended a play and learned about its historical background, read the script, had interactive discussions about it, and learned a song related to the theme. Later they took a theater workshop with the professional actors. This experience gave more meaning to the play they watched.

Culture – “I was impressed watching the actors play different characters.”

Leadership – “I learned how all of us depended on each other when presenting in public”

Personal Development – “I enjoyed learning about Latino culture. More than pride, it gave me reassurance that I belong in my community.”


Prevention programs like this make a tremendous impact in the Latino community, motivating not only the middle school students to stay in school, but also their parents to continue their own education and break the cycle of poverty.” By inviting parents to participate in social issues workshops and by including them in the cultural presentations at community festivals, a stronger community is built.


The goal of the Stay-in-School Quinceanera Program is to help students learn about themselves; who they are and what career path they want to take. Participating in the program plants the seed and gives students not only hope, but awareness of their educational opportunities in their schools and out in their communities. Working with role models – artists, instructors, and presenters – the students get inspired and learn that there is a community willing to support them in their educational endeavors.

The clearly defined goal of the Parent Recital at the end of the program, allows the students and their parents the opportunity to celebrate their success and provides the motivation of the program. It is an opportunity for the parents and families to celebrate and value their teens. The program provides the main dish, beverages, and cake, but families bring a dish to share. The students look elegant, confident and proud (the program owns formal dresses in several sizes and white elegant shirts/guayaveras for the boys.)