Growing Latino enrollment at Henry reflected in Latino Student Council

Latino Student Council Advisor Teddie Lee gathers with a few of the council members Moses Pozos-Cuevas, Jeremy Vara and Karla Cortes under a banner that reads “A people united will never be divided.”

Latino Student Council Advisor Teddie Lee gathers with a few of the council members Moses Pozos-Cuevas, Jeremy Vara and Karla Cortes under a banner that reads “A people united will never be divided.”

 

 

Each year in early October the Minneapolis Public Schools records a variety of demographic reports on school site enrollment, including racial and ethnic data. The 2017/2018 school year continued an overall trend of growth in the enrollment of Latino students at Henry High School (PHHS) with 101 students or 9.2 percent of the enrollment of 1,103.*

*Enrollment of Latino Students by % at Henry High School 2003 – 2017  Source:  Minneapolis Public Schools Student Accounting Department

2003 – 2.92% 2007 – 3.74% 2011 – 6.8% 2015 – 8.1%
2004 – 2.85% 2008 – 4.5% 2012 – 8.5% 2016 – 9.3%
2005 – 2.89% 2009 – 4.7% 2013 – 8.5% 2017 – 9.2%
2006 – 3.47% 2010 – 4.7% 2014 – 8%

 

Latino Students at PHHS primarily descend from Central and South American roots: mainly from the countries of El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Dominican Republic and Mexico.

In response to growing Latino enrollment, and the wants and needs of Latino students to connect with one another, a Latino Student Council was created. “Before, like, when I was a freshman, I didn’t see any Latinos at Henry so I cried,” Jocelyne Alvarez explained. “Slowly, like in the lunchroom, I started seeing more. In my junior year, Ismael Montiel and Karla Salazar, now graduates of PHHS, started the group with advisor Teddie Lee, who helped the group locate meeting space as well as focus on ideas for empowering Latino students. Then I started seeing more Latinos and started making new Latino friends.”  Eberlin Morales added, “Students came to me. They said that they felt unrepresented and so we started the group.”

Teddie Lee, of African and Dominican Republican roots, is the Latino Student Council Advisor, which he emphasizes is different from ‘leader’.  “The Latino Student Council does not have a set leader. When we need to come up with an idea we all just throw ideas in a pot and then vote.”  Those most often involved in the voting process are: Karla Cortes – Sophomore – Mexican roots; Jeremy Vara – Sophomore – Mexican roots; Pavel Alvarado – Junior – Guatemalan roots; Moses Pozos-Cuevas – Junior – Mexican roots; Ebelin Morales – Senior – El Salvadorian and Honduran roots; Jocelyne Alvarves – Senior – Mexican roots; Irwin Flores – Senior – Mexican roots; Keydi Vicente Duenas – Freshman – Mexican roots; and Aneth Hernandez Soto – Freshman – Mexican roots

          Moses Pozos-Cuevas states his version of a mission and vision statement of the Latino Student Council: “I think that our goal is to be connected with our Hispanic families and to get others informed that Latinos are good people because in this society they don’t expect as Mexicans, El Salvadorians, Hondurans, to graduate from high school or college. We want to prove that some people are wrong in that, we are actually good people and are here to work.”

          Fellow members are like-minded about the pre- and post environment at Henry with the Latino Student Council. Pavel Alvarado noted, “I saw how other cultural groups of people in school were involved in activities and field trips. I saw that Latinos were being left out.”  Karla Cortes believes the group is helping to address that need, “I like that we all get together to build goals for our community.” Jeremy Vara appreciates his culture and the recognition of that culture, “It makes me feel good, like in the community and the school to be with Latino students and staff.”

“We are moving towards our goals primarily by building community among Latino students of PHHS by making them feel welcome,” said Eberin Morales. “There are a lot of students from many countries of origin here, in addition to those who have roots in Mexico. We show them cultural appreciation. We have dias de representacion (days of representation), wearing something of a country of origin and be the advocates for these kids.”

 

Other activities during the 2017-2018 school year include:

          -Bulletin board for Hispanic Heritage Month

-Bulletin board “Faces of Latino Student Council”

-Latino Family Out, in which information about resources are available for

Latino families in PHHS

-Taco Tuesdays

-April 12, the Latino Student Council members traveled to Duluth’s

University of Minnesota Duluth to meet with Cultural Inclusion staff

and to check out the college.

-May 10, the “Mi gente” event will be held at North Hennepin Community

College, co-hosted by Henry’s Latino Student Council and folks from

North Hennepin Community College. Speakers from various

occupations will share opportunities.

 

As member Irwin Flores prepares to graduate, he envisions a future with a continuing role in the future of the Council, “I do hope this group connects as I graduate from PHHS. I am going to keep in touch with Teddie and the members. I will pass the word to Latino parents to send their children to PHHS and become a member of the Latino Student Council.”

 

Written by Susan Breedlove with input from Tom Murray