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Latino Arts and Culture Workshops

Stay in School Quinceanera Organization

For eight Saturdays in the Fall 2015 and Spring 2016, 30 Latino middle school students took part in this motivational and educational program, Stay-in-School Quinceanera Program that includes boys and girls. They attended artistic and cultural workshops such as Ballroom Dancing, Creative Writing, Drawing and Painting, and Wax Flowers Corona Making/head garland & boutonniere, and Floreo de la Reata/rope tricks for rodeo competition. The group also took part in Social Issues discussions and activities such as Health & Nutrition, College Preparation in High School, and Peer Pressure. They went on a field trip to Boise State University and took part on a community festival.

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?

A traditional waltz is the basis for the Quinceanera tradition, therefore the Stay-in-School Quinceanera Program evolves around Ballroom Dance classes. Most people are not aware of the value of ballroom dancing, but through this artistic discipline, the students did not only interact with each other and the instructor, but also learned posture, rhythm, movement, social skills, respect toward others, body self-acceptance, personal hygiene, and leadership. The students were enticed to join because they wanted to learn how to dance with a partner, but once in the program, they were exposed to art and cultural workshops and discussions on social issues affecting their lives, where they obtained life-learning skills. Their parents were invited to attend and obtained useful information provided by community-based organizations. A field to Boise State University (tour and a presentation with college students) helped demystify a college education.
Several Anchor Standards were met:
#5 – Develop and refine artistic techniques and work presentation – They worked on their formal dance every Saturday toward a final presentation at the Parent Recital and other community presentations.
#6 – Performing: Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work – The students wrote poetry based on their own personal life experiences and read it during the Parent Recital and other community presentations.
#8 – Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work – The students created a collage

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

Culture – “I learned that the American Rodeo is based on the Mexican tradition of Charrerias”
Leadership – “I learned the choreography of the dance and all of us depended on each other at community presentations when the instructor was not present”
Personal Development – “I danced and read my poetry in public”

Impact

Prevention programs like this make a tremendous impact in the Latino community. Motivating Latino middle school students to stay in school is the goal of the program. Inviting parents to participate and later taking the cultural presentation to community festivals helps build a stronger community. The whole community benefits.

Reflection

It is a source of inspiration to attend the Parent Recital. The program provides the main dish, drinks and cake, but families bring a dish to share. There is a lot of interaction between parents and teens and instructors. This is an opportunity for the families to celebrate and value their teens. The students look elegant (the program own dresses in several sizes and white elegant shirts/guayaveras for the boys), they look proud and confident knowing that their community supports them in their endeavors.

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