Latinos in Action are Back in Action


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

Yoselyn George, Contributor

On Thursday, February 6, twenty-three students anxiously waited by the entrance on Shenandoah Street when they saw a yellow school bus arrive. The students didn’t waste any time and eagerly got on the bus. 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 two participating schools, Dania and Oakridge Elementary School, to tutor elementary students. 

“Waiting so long this school year really made me lose hope,” said LIA student, Katheryne 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”

Last year, the LIA class wasn’t able to go due to the pandemic and online classes. Teacher and LIA sponsor Otto Rodriguez has been working since September of last year to make it possible for his students, mainly the seniors, to start tutoring again. He was so relieved to have transportation again. The lack of buses not only affected the students getting tutored, but it also affected the LIA students since the main focus of the class is teaching leadership and empathy skills. 

“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,” said Rodriguez.

For five years now, students from two classes have been tutoring and improving their skills during school hours. Block three usually goes to Oakridge Elementary School, while block seven goes to Dania Elementary School. 

“Going to the elementary schools helps us with leadership skills, responsibility, being on point, and giving back to the community without asking anything in return,” said Diez. 

Rodriguez says that one way of developing empathy is by helping others, and that’s where tutoring elementary students comes in. SBHS junior, Patrick Flores, said it helps him develop 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 Flores, an LIA student. 

The main goal for LIA is for the students to make connections with their elementary students by helping them when they’re struggling, sitting with them at lunch, and talking with them about what’s on their minds. The LIA students get a lot out of it too. Diez says tutoring the young students has helped her 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,” said Diez. “All they need is someone to be there for them.”