LAHS Hosts Annual Latino Awards
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On Thursday, March 30, Los Altos honored high-achieving Latino students’ dedication to school and their community through cultural performances, speeches and awards at the annual Latino Academic Achievement Recognition Awards in the Eagle Theater.
The theme of the night was “capeless heroes,” and students showed appreciation for their parents’ support of their education. Organized by Latino Student Union (LSU), the ceremony provided an opportunity for Latino students, many of whom will be first in their families to attend college, to be honored.
“My parents immigrated from Mexico 18 years ago…[and] I come from a low-income community, but despite that, [my parents] always taught me to believe in myself,” LSU President senior Yesenia Gutierrez said. “Having the support of my parents has definitely guided me throughout my four years at Los Altos. They don’t know much about high school, but…[it has] been a lot of help just knowing that I’m getting their support.”
The awards recognized obstacles that Latino students face during their high school careers through speakers of various backgrounds. One speaker, Los Altos alumna Dalia Gamez, spoke about the challenges of the political climate, with many immigrants facing threats of deportation. Gamez’s experience as an immigrant fueled her passion to succeed in both high school and college, and she emphasized the importance of overcoming fears and celebrating successes in higher education.
“Part of the Latino Awards is recognizing that many first-generation students do go through hardships,” Yesenia said. “But they’re still succeeding in their classes, they’re still working in their communities… and they’re still being leaders and good scholars. The Latino community is about families, sticking together and getting through hardships.”
Los Altos teachers and administration selected Yesenia as the recipient of the MVLA Academic Achievement Scholarship, which helps support a student’s college tuition. The scholarship recognizes Yesenia’s commitment to the Latino and Los Altos community. As LSU President, Yesenia helped organize events in celebration of Cinco de Mayo and Día de Los Muertos.
“I take a lot of pride and joy in being part of [this] community,” Yesenia said. “Receiving this award felt really nice… because I never did the work that I’ve done just to get recognized, I did it because I wanted to help LSU. I wanted to be part of the community and contribute to the community.”
The awards also served as a cultural celebration, with LSU dancers and a traditional Mexican folklore dance group performing. To sophomore Julissa Hernandez Garduza, the awards represented an opportunity to showcase her culture through dance.
“Dance has been a big part of my life and a big part of Mexican tradition,” Julissa said. “I feel really proud of myself that I was able to learn it… and show my family everything that I have learned. My parents are always pushing me… to be a good student and to go to college. They have helped me [continue] the tradition of dance and that has helped me be a better person.”