Latinx students at Patrick Henry High School – Part 2

Henry High’s Latinx Student Council members selling tacos to raise funds for upcoming trip to Washington D.C.

The population of Hispanic students enrolled and active in the Henry High Phamily has been increasing as noted in the first installment of this article in the December Camden News. I interviewed eight Latinx Student Council members; here are the questions posed to them and some of their responses.

Why did you and your family select Henry as your high school?

Most responded that they came to Henry following cousins and siblings and that Henry was the choice of their parents. Some families selected Henry because it is closest to their home. Alicia shared, “I chose Henry because I know people that told me many good things that went here before. Also, because I came to tour it while in middle school and it seemed like the best school.”  Adriana stated, “I choose Henry because I wanted to be on the Northside. I’ve been on the Northside my whole life, and this school has many programs to help for college and other stuff.” Estefania shares, “I choose to come to Henry because my sister graduated from here. I was not too sure about coming here at first but it turned out I really like it here. It feels like I am really a part of a Phamily.”

What staff person at Henry is most helpful to you? (Note:Responses have been shared with respective staff members.)  Typical of their comments were: “The staff persons that I go to the most are my counselor and my English teacher who really helps us out with more than just her class. She always keeps us on our toes. She gives us advice on college and things that we will have to do and prepares us,” says Caitlyn. “The staff that I find most helpful is Teddie Lee. Teddie has helped me become the person I am. He pushes me to be the better me. He knows what I am capable of doing and he won’t let me stop trying until I show the best of what I can do,” said Estefania.

Are there concerns and issues you have? (Note: Due to privacy concerns, students are not identified.)

Student A: “I have a concern about my family and other families that because maybe not being documented they will be forced to go back.”

Student B: “Since I am not documented:

-I am not able to get a job.

-No financial aid for college.

-Not being able to work in the medical field because of being undocumented.  (Note: To

get a professional license, a person must be documented. Henry High alumni have completed college and cannot get a job in their chosen profession because they cannot get a license.)

-No benefits that require social security number.

-Parents work for long hours.

-I feel like there is no support for undocumented students.

-Having to basically raise my siblings because parents work from 4 a.m. to 4 p.m. or 7 a.m. to

7 p.m.

-Being told not to dream because I would not achieve anything since I was illegal.

-Henry counselors don’t have enough education for guidance of undocumented students. I was told that I cannot do FAFSE as I cannot get a social security number. I would like counselors to know of resources to get jobs for students like me.”

Student C: “There are some concerns for me as I am someone that has grown up with undocumented parents and family members. My mother has been in the U.S. since she was a child so she’s under DACA, so it is concerning when our current U.S. president talks about wanting to take that away. Or like my father wasn’t able to get DACA like many other family members. Our president likes to talk about how ICE is to go around. We live with the fear of our family or friends getting taken away.”  (Note: DACA is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which President Barack Obama authorized through executive action in 2012 to protect law-abiding immigrants, brought to the United States as children.  The legality of this program is under discussion by the U.S. Supreme Court.The MN Dream Act is a state law providing education benefits to undocumented students who meet all the requirements in the state law.)

Student D: “Something I would be concerned about would be getting harassed by people for being Latino and for having parents that don’t know how to speak English.”

Student E: “My concern is about immigration. It’s very sad to see how families are being split up. Kids are being put in a facility where they get raped and/or beat. Recently there was a coming together about kids only getting small things as a simple foil blanket. ICE knocks on people’s door pretending to be the police and taking immigrants. Some kids don’t see their parents for up to years and when they do, they’re traumatized by being in that facility. It also hurts how many people want to say, ‘Speak English. It’s America.’ To me America is a place full of a variety of cultures, religions and languages.”

What are your suggestions for resources for youth in the Camden area surrounding Henry High?

Alexis would like “a place safe for teens to hang out.” Hailey “would make another library or a quiet place for students to be able to go to.” Two others suggested, “In Camden I would like to see more resources for undocumented students. I would also like to see information centers for illegal immigrants.” “I would say that there should be a place where Latinos could just hang out. There could also be a Latino store around so people could embrace the Latino culture.”