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2015 RCCA Community Awards Ceremony (By Ellie Anderson. World Studies Teacher at Roberto Clemente H.S.) – Que Ondee Sola

2015 RCCA Community Awards Ceremony (By Ellie Anderson. World Studies Teacher at Roberto Clemente H.S.)

For the final unit of study in the freshman World Studies classes, students learned about gentrification and displacement. In this unit, they first learned about gentrification and displacement conceptually. Once students had studied these concepts, they focused in on Humboldt Park and studied specifically what is happening in their community. At first they focused on the gentrification happening and the causes of those changes, followed by what individuals and organizations are doing to combat gentrification and displacement. Students spent much of their class time researching individuals, organizations, and initiatives and examining their impact on the community. Once this research was done, students organized a community awards ceremony to honor and thank these organizations and individuals. Students systematically nominated and voted on organizations and individuals they thought were exceptionally impactful in stopping displacement in Humboldt Park and strengthening the community and culture.

Students selected Billy Ocasio, Luis Salgado, Judy Vazquez, Doris Velazquez, Celena Roldan-Moreno, Pastor Wilfredo “Choco” De Jesus, and Jose Lopez as the award recipients. All award recipients received a student-designed and created award; specific students rose to the occasion by leading committees that were responsible for the awards. In addition, students wrote and gave introductory speeches thanking and highlighting each individual’s contributions to the community, spreading awareness. Upon receiving their award, recipients gave a short speech thanking the students in return. Moreover, special dignitaries – such as Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti and State Representative Cynthia Soto – surprised the freshman class by attending the awards ceremony. One pre- senter, Estefani Flores, said about the event, “I felt so proud and excited to present the award. I was nervous, but I am so glad I did it. It really brought me outside of my comfort zone. It was awesome that we could do something that monumental for the community. I really feel like our hard work was worth it. I felt like we actually made a difference. We actually did something. ”

Fellow freshman Christian Ramirez added, “I was worried that it wasn’t going to be a big thing, but then it turned out to be amazing. The awards were awesome, because students who are really good artists were able to have their work made public. I loved hearing the award recipients, especially Jose Lopez. It was interesting to hear how the school once was and how it has improved. I was proud to be part of it.” Through the students’ incredibly hard work, the Community Awards Ceremony was a great success. It was meaningful to all involved. It was another event that has strengthened the relationship between the school and the community, as well as high-lighting the class of 2018’s amazing abilities and talents.

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