CHAPTER 2: TAKING ROOT
However, Alec's public high school on the south side of Chicago was very much urban AND diverse. Alec made friends with other students of all sorts of backgrounds and beliefs. Not just black or white; the blanket names "Mexican" and "Arab" were differentiated for him. He was surprised to find that someone who defined themselves as Polish (as he did in part) was actually a first generation American citizen who had to learn English as a second language. This really confused Alec and made him want to know more about all the different ethnicities and personal stories that go into making up a single race of people.
Alec experienced a lot about the different ways students learn and the ways personal histories come into play when shaping a person's educational track. He saw a lot of students of the same race in the same track of classes and wondered why that happened. This made Alec confused and a little sad.
Chapter 3: Golden Apple
First impression of Benito Juarez Community Academy - wowza. This place is nice. There is a lot more going on here than in a traditional educational setting. The murals, chock full of color, Mexican heritage and social commentary, were astounding. I could not believe that all of this was inside of a Chicago high school. A CPS school. Who commissioned these murals? Who painted them? It was as if all the most versed scholars of cultura nativa got together with all the most innovative street artists and made beautiful, moving visual stories. It was amazing to see the culture of the place and people flow from the streets into the school. That's how people learn.
Above are student-created political cartoons in my CT's ELA classroom. Most of the posters center around Donald Trump, racism, and related themes. Regardless of political ideology, it was amazing to see the students thinking critically about what they knew and express it through the conventions of a political cartoon. Plus, they are such good artists!!
Below is a photo of a student's gender equality project. Though her artist statement does not make too much sense, the significance is clear: blur gender stigmas in order for a safe and representational space to be there for whomever needs it. The students are so progressive. I am proud.
The emphasis that these students have a culture that matters is making all the difference in this school. Pilsen is a special place, where students get that value in a large part of themselves from more than just their homes. Here, it can also be found i the school and in the community.