Latinos in Action, Back to Elementary


Latinos in Action student, Emily Betancour, poses with her elementary students at Oakridge Elementary School by giving peace signs.

Yoselyn George, Contributor

Since the start of the new year, SBHS Latinos in Action (LIA) class has been waiting for the day that they’ll be able to go to the elementary schools and tutor the kids. Last year, they weren’t able to go due to the pandemic and online classes in Broward County; but this year, transportation was their main obstacle. This didn’t just affect the kids being tutored, but also the LIA class since the main goal for their class is going to the elementary schools.

“This is a big opportunity for my students,” said Otto Rodriguez, class sponsor, “being here this whole time without going to the elementary schools has stopped them from growing their social skills and expanding their empathy with others.” 

The Latinos in Action class at South Broward HS is a class that’s based on leadership and empathy, which tutoring has helped them with. For 5 years in a row, students from both block three and block seven have been tutoring and improving their skills during school time. Block three usually goes to Oakridge Elementary School and they go from 10:50 A.M. to 12:50 P.M. while block seven, goes to Dania Elementary School. 

“Going to the elementary schools help us with leadership skills , responsibility, being on point, and giving back to the community without asking anything in return,” said Katheryne Diez, LIA student and block seven vice-president. 

The Latinos in Action teacher, Otto Rodriguez, has been working since September of last year to make it possible for his students, mainly the seniors, to go back and help; but also, make an impact on the elementary kids. It wasn’t until Thursday, February 6, that they were able to go. The LIA class block seven, formed by 23 students, were waiting by the entrance on Shenandoah St when they saw a yellow school bus arrive. The students didn’t waste any time and got on the bus ready to meet their students. 

“Waiting for so long this school year really made me lose hope,” said Diez, “for a moment I thought I wasn’t going to be able to go back; so, when I saw the bus arrive for the first time I was in shock and so excited,”

So far, the LIA class has already been improving a lot, especially in how empathy works; a subject that Mr. Rodriguez has taught a lot. Empathy was something that not many of the students had, but after empathy was taught to them, they used it as part of their everyday life. 

“…this is helping me with my compassion and social skills. I get to be around small kids that have a lot of imagination and I know I’m making an impact in their life,” said Patrick Flores, LIA student.

The main thing that empathy has helped them with, was making connections with their elementary students. They help the elementary students when they’re struggling, they sit with them at lunch and talk with them about everything that comes to their mind; which really helps all those students that don’t have anyone to look up to. 

“As a person, this has helped me grow and mature, it has made me realize that some of them don’t have someone to look up to, someone that can pay attention to them and help them with their stuff; because really, all they need is someone to be there for them,” said Diez.