To encourage leadership among Robinson Secondary School’s Hispanic population, Ruth Azimi and Enrique Fernandez co-sponsor LASA, the Latin American Students Association. It’s helping the students’ parents, as well.
Azimi holds monthly meetings for the parents to inform them about opportunities for themselves and their children. She lets them know what’s going on at school and provides them with information about scholarships.
"The parents feel included in their kids’ lives," said senior Lucia Maldonado. "One of Hispanic parents’ fears is that they won’t be able to guide their children through the college-application process."
Now, though, Robinson’s Hispanic parents learn how to advocate for their children at school. And when NOVA’s Hispanic Student Union recently visited Robinson, its members spoke in Spanish and told parents ways they could get involved in school.
All these things delight Robinson parent liaison Azimi. "I’ve been working here for eight years, and I always wanted a club for Spanish students," she said. "They don’t always participate in clubs, but we do have a lot of Hispanic leaders."
Last year, Azimi went to the Hispanic Leadership Alliance (HLA) awards banquet and saw teachers present Hispanic students with scholarships. "I wanted to do that at Robinson, too," she said. "So I talked to HLA President Idi Duncan about establishing a partnership with them for a club here."
She then discussed the idea with several students, including Maldonado, then a junior. Azimi wanted to revive LASA, which was once active at Robinson, but had disappeared the past three years.
So when Fernandez joined Robinson in January as a counselor, she recruited him to help. Since then, said Azimi, "He’s been our right hand in every aspect of LASA. And the fact that he’s fluent in Spanish helped the kids."
"I like LASA," said Fernandez. "The members are really passionate about the group and want to do lots of things. So we’re deciding what we want LASA to be and to do for the community. We worked on an international talent show in March, with all the cultures here. It included a fashion show and food from different countries."
LASA’s leadership board has already presented activity ideas to Fernandez for the next school year. "We want it to be mostly student-run," he said. "We’d like it to be more than social – a support system for all ESOL students and students new to the middle and high school. We’d also like to set up a tutoring system for students needing help with their schoolwork. We want to make them all feel like they belong here at Robinson."