The school year is winding down. That means that the end of the year celebrations are beginning to go to full swing.
Last week there was the PCC President's Latino Advisory Committee Scholarship Breakfast. Nearly $60,000 in scholarships awarded since the inception of the awards. Fourteen scholarships were awarded last Tuesday. Those of us who coordinated the event wish there could be more and are resolute that their will be more next year!
On May 11th the members of LULAc will hosting their Leaders in Education Recognition and Scholarship Awards from 8:30-10:30 a.m. at Washington Middle School. The master of ceremonies will be outgoing school board member, Ramon Miramontes. Moctezuma Esparza will present a special award honorirng Sal Castro and LAUSD President Monica Garcia will be the keynote speaker.
El Centro de Acción Social usually has a scholarship event, but information on that event isn't available online, at that this date. I'm sure it will be, but not as of this writing.
On May 19th several groups will be presenting the Latino Recognition Ceremony at PCC. In 2007 several groups that provide services to Latino students joined together to present the Latino Recognition Ceremony. Over the years the groups have changed, but the commitment has remained.
This year keynote will be author and PCC Author in Residence, Reyna Grande. There will be recognition of the educators Sal Castro and Pasadena's own Oscar Palmer.
The ceremony is focused on acknowledging the efforts of all students and their families, being especially mindful of those who may not "walk" in June due to units they might need to complete over the summer or a need to pass the CAHSEE exam. The students have students have stayed, or, in some cases, returned to school.
There'll be more information highlighting this event later this week.
A last thought - Latinas and Latinos make up about a third of the city of Pasadena. Latina and Latino students make up 60% of the PUSD. Is it any wonder that there would be different events? To be honest, I'm surprised when folks are surprised that more than one recognition exists.
Sal Castro is well in his mid-seventies in this photo. He was at the Mexican Cultural Institute. Rosalio Muñoz gathered a panel to discuss the Walkouts of spring of 1968.
That day, like most day, he was passionate, emphatic, and committed to the ideals of any fine teacher; wanting the greatest opportunities for their students
EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castilllo
Sal died earlier this week. Cancer. He had been hospitalized 5 times since November.
His Funeral Mass took place this morning. There were a couple thousand people in Our Lady of the Angles Cathedral. Christians, Jews, Muslims, agnostics, and atheists. Students who are in college now and those degrees may really be on lambskin. All there to honor Sal and to remember his work.
During the eulogy there were those who shared how his passion for educational success had helped mold them. Education, education, education. There was no other theme. Wait, the other one - pride.
I tried to write notes, but the words flew by and sometimes only sentiment remained. I didn't have classes with him, but my friends did.
At one point there was a request to see hands raise for those who had had Sal as a teacher. I'm guessing that more than a quarter of those in the sanctuary raised their hands. That's a lot of hands on a midweek workday.
I wondered how many college degrees were represented by those in the cathedral. How many of the .02 Latinos who had completed Doctoral studay were in the room because "Sal took on the entire educational system because he felt that the system didn't care about the kids he taught". How many had their M.A, their B.A, or had completed a degree that was greater than their parents or their siblings.
How many had walked out participating in the largest high school high school student strike? Striking because of the educational injustices they were experiencing? Clear that they were taking a chance by doing so, but believing that that would be the only way change might happen?
I wondered how many had heard him share that March 6, 1968 was a day when, for the first time for some of his beloved students, he saw them "...with their head held high, with dignity. It was a beautiful day to be a Chicano ...", in a voice choked with emotion?
California Supreme Court Justice, Carlos Moreno, who was considered to be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, spoke of the impact Sal had on him. "He was the tallest, most well spoken, Mexican American I'd ever come across". He was a young boy being coached in a sport by Sal, but 55 years later the impact of that tall Mexican American remained meaningful and vivid . Sal made a difference in the life of a child who went from a challenging life in Solano Canyon to Yale Law School.
Yet another speaker - "Sal was a teacher and an organizer who wanted his country to live up to its promise of justice and equality for all".
Another speaker, another phrase - " he is a part of Chicano history. He should be a part of American history".
The last phrase that I was able to write was a blessing that was offered by Sal, and was offered back today by all of us in the Cathedral.
"Que Dios les bendiga y que la virgen morena proteja".
May God bless you and may the dark virgen protect you".
We will miss you, Sal.
We will move on, you have taught us well.
Thanks for believing in us and urging us to get the best education possible.
Thanks for letting us know that we can claim the American Dream as our dream, too.
Forgive the typos and the syntactical missteps, please. It's been a long week.
To learn more about Sal Castro here are a couple handy links.
Although it is known as Pasadena City College, our local community college serves an area that is much greater than the city proper.
The Pasadena City College Area District includes the cities of: Arcadia, a portion of El Monte, La Canada Flintridge, Pasadena, Rosemead, San Marino, Sierra Madre, South Pasadena, and Temple City. There are also students to who attend that come from Los Angeles and parts of Unicorporated Los Angeles County.
Tomorrow the President's Latino Advisory Committee will hold its annual Scholarship Breakfast. I'm hoping that one of our news organizations will highlight the event, for there will be a dozen scholarships given; with ten of them being $1,000 scholarships.
This competitive process is detailed, involves members of the community as well as staff at PCC, and includes biographies are filled with a commitment to excel despite situations that would most of the rest of us.
Tomorrow we will recognized students who will use their scholarships as they study in the following majors:
The Keynote speaker will be Elsa Bolado. Ms. Bolado was one of the students who attended Garfield High School and was a student of Mr. Jaime Escalante. If you've seen the movie Stand and Deliver you'll be familiar with his work.
What you might not know is that Mr. Escalante attended PCC.
I'm sure that many of the students that will be recognized tomorrow will become a part of the proud history of PCC. Who knows one of them might come back and be a keynote speaker sometime in the not too distant future.