Apr 11, 2018 09:47AM
By Jet Burnham
Dancers from Ballet Folklorico Las Americas entertained families at community cultural event. (Jet Burnham/City Journals)
Hispanic students make up about 30 percent of the student body at both Joel P Jensen Middle and West Jordan Middle schools, 21 percent at Copper Hills High School and a similar percentage at West Jordan High School. The Third Annual Noche Latina brought students from these schools together with their families to celebrate their culture and to strengthen their relationships with their schools.
“We have such a large Hispanic population at our school, so we want to reach out to them and reach out to their parents,” said WJMS Vice Principal Eric Price.
Jorge Chauca, the WJMS teacher who organized the event, said the evening event was also a way to inform Hispanic and Latino parents about resources and programs available to them and their children.
“There are plenty of resources for parents to help their families here in Utah,” said Chauca. “This can be used to ultimately build a great support system and build strong successful communities for our families and students.”
The keynote speaker at the event was Mexican Consul Jose V. Borjon. Speaking to the theme “Education is the Key to Success,” he encouraged students to value their opportunities for learning. He advised them that they would be more successful if they were actively involved in their own education. He also encouraged them to be respectful to others and to be good citizens.
Borjon informed the families about resources available at the consulate. Families can receive support with the immigration process, social issues and even attend parenting classes there.
Mark Jones, a counselor at WJMS, highlighted additional resources available through Jordan District. Jordan District hosts many events for community members; 250 students received free eye exams and glasses at last month’s Sight Fest, and parents received training on how to protect their children during an internet safety night class.
The next community event, on April 30, will be a resource fair where representatives from all the District programs will be available in one place, the Auxiliary Service Building at 7509 South Redwood Road.
These resources include South Pointe adult school where adults can earn their GED, and the Jordan Family Education Center that provides free classes and counseling for individuals and families.
Jones encouraged parents to attend the public hearings held by the district twice a year to discuss district policies.
“As parents in the community, you can have your voice be heard about some of the issues here at the school and in Jordan District,” said Jones.
Jones also promoted the school’s resources, such as their well-stocked Principal’s Pantry.
“We have food here at the school that is available for students who may not have food at home for breakfast or may need extra food for the weekend,” said Jones.
Parents were also reminded about the after school programs WJMS provides. Monday through Friday, students can participate in activities such as computer programming, robotics, chess, soccer, basketball and dance.
Students showcased some of the Latin-dancing they learned in their after-school class, as Latinos in Action groups from the four West Jordan schools performed dances for the audience.
JPJMS’ LIA showcased a variety of music styles in their performance while the LIA from West Jordan choreographed their dance with a mix of bachata, cumbia and merengue.
Professional dancers from Ballet Folklorico Las Americas also performed. Both the dancers and the audience were enthusiastic about the music and dance, representing various countries.
“We need this kind of activity to celebrate diversity in our community,” said Jorge Ibanez, another event organizer from WJMS.
Latino students and teachers also shared poetry they wrote . Poems expressed feelings about being bilingual, following dreams, cultural pride, food, the Border, playing sports, being an individual and nefarious cows who dominate the world.
“It allowed our students to have a stage and use their voice and talents to share their culture at the school,” said Chauca.