Live Blog:Annual LULAC Conference Hits Pima West
Monday, 15 March 2010 06:19
12:10pm: I left once the concert is over but before they start letting the students go out to get food. I raced to the food area to meet with the servers and see the dozens of boxes of pizza and the hundreds of personal pan-sized pizzas, as well as hundreds of cans of soda. most of the servers seem to be in high school and they are having a lot of fun while waiting for the rush of kids.
12:00pm: It seems to be winding down now, and many teachers are herding their students out to try and avoid the rush to the food.
11:55am: Back in the concert area, I return just in time to hear how students should put their faith in Jesus Christ to help them in hard times. They did did a skit to the song "Bring me to Life" by Evanescence showing a girl being terrorize by Freddy Kreuger-like beings and then being shielded by an angel. This makes me wonder where the line seperating between church and state, and the whole "keeping religion out of schools" is drawn. However, it was the right idea for this crowd because the kids went crazy for the skit.
11:45am: On the way out of the lounge area I saw a man in a suit talking to some LULAC volunteers and I asked who he was. He turned out to be Lou Albert, the president of Pima West. When I asked him why Pima West had hosted LULAC for so many years he responded, "We have the room, but most of all we have the community for the conference. We have so many educators and staff that are enthusiastic about this program and I love being a part of such a dynamic conference."
11:40: I left the gym to learn more about the mural project. In the student lounge they had dozens of sheets of heavy paper which the students had drawn images of what they believe in. Most had family in the drawings, many featured crosses and Spanish phrases.
11:30am: After more music, they start getting into the stories of why drugs are bad and why students should stay in school. The lead singer tells a story of how her childhood friend did drugs and died because of it and how that is her inspiration to do the concerts. One of the volunteers told me that they had been doing a mural workshop which allowed students to create a mural on any topic they choose.
11:15am: After several minutes of straight dancing and singing to Lady Gaga and other popular artists, Patsy Torres has had a call out to the students, having the 6th graders stand up and cheer, the 7th graders and so on. This is doing a lot to pump up the kids and make them excited.
11:10am: The band known as Patsy Torres and the Positive Force Tour have come onstage in a show that emphasizes heavy beats and mixes of current popular music. The main singer Patsy Torres is surrounded by dancers who break dance on the stage.
11:00am: I entered into the school gym which has been transformed from a basic large basketball court into a concert venue. The floors are lined with black garbage bags and a fog machine shoots out gusts of smoke which interact with the multicolered lights to create a very hip arena. The students are sitting in bleachers on the sides and hundreds of chairs in the middle. A stage is set up in the back, under the basketball hoop. I stand in the back with the police officers and volunteers.
10:52am: Officials have started to let the kids into the gym, now there is a mad rush when hundreds of children try and push through one small door. I am going to wait until everyone is inside before I attempt to go in.
10:48am: The line in front of the Pima West gym is more of a crowd with volunteers trying to corrall the students into place. Most of the students are on their phones. "I'm texting my friend who's back at Doolen (middle school)," said Lupita Mendez. "She's bummed she couldn't come, it's great getting out of school.
10:45am: LULAC volunteers announce that it is time to line up for the LULAC concert, there is a rush a students who swarm in front of the door. Many others continue to browse through the exhibits and wait for the doors to open.
10:40am: I spoke to a LULAC volunteer, Mario Lopez who said this was his first LULAC conference but that he was enjoying himself. "It is weird being here, because a couple years ago I was the one in the school uniform asking if what I should do when I grow up," he said.
10:38am: I talked to a representative from the University of Arizona's College of Engineering who is here to recruit students into a summer engineering programmed aimed at Hispanic students.
10:35am: Middle school students from around Tucson participate in the college and career fair that businesses and government entities have put on. Representatives from Tucson Police Department, the University of Arizona and many others are here to answer questions about what they can do after graduation.
The League of United Latin American Youth Leadership Conference was instituted in 1988 in response to apprehension about the state of education and lack of programs that promoted and developed leadership in students attending middle and high school. It was important that students who attend the conference be exposed to an institution of higher education thus the setting for the conference at Pima Community College’s West Campus.
Since 1998, the LULAC Youth Leadership Conference has had more than 88,000 middle and high school students participate from Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, California, and Mexico.
This year, the theme is: The Key To Success Is Through Education: Today’s Youth Defining Tomorrow and will host:
- Special Topic Workshops by Community Leaders including AIMS Preparation
- Career Fairs hosted by Health Care, Public Safety, Emergency Services providers and the U.S. Military Branches
- Higher Education Fair hosted by Arizona Community Colleges and Universities
Check us out later today for a live blog from the conference, beginning at 10:30am.
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