Latinos in Action aims to create trusting leaders in school
Nearly 70% of the students in the Wendell School District are of Hispanic or Latin descent.
Wendell Middle School represents one of 200 schools nationwide, featuring a Latinos in Action program.
LIA isn't just geared to one ethnicity, but encompasses all.
"It's not secluded to just the Hispanic students and our non-Hispanics feel like they're ex'ed out or not part of something, they can contribute as much as the Hispanics," teacher Stacey Oden said.
Take Brylei Beorchia for instance.
Beorchia said, "Mrs. Smith, the Latinos in Action teacher told me to do it and I thought it was a good program to get involved."
AJ Ramirez tries to set an example for his peers, after witnessing an act of bullying last year.
"It goes for everyone to speak out because it can resolve a lot of things," Ramirez said.
He knows what the lasting impacts could be, if he didn't take action.
"If you don't speak, it could lead to problems like depression," explained Ramirez.
Because LIA isn't just an elective course, but an opportunity to strengthen one's community.
Julian Ponce added, "my friends are calling the new kids bad names, it's like chill, they're new, let them be, they're probably nervous."
Latinos in Action students visit the elementary schools weekly where they mentor and tutor the younger population.
"I want to help little kids and influence them in my own way and see if they look up to me one day," explained Jose Cigarroa.
They also teach the kids about college and career readiness, expanding their awareness when it comes to post-school options.
"There's more to life than our farm work and our dairy industry, a lot of these kids they see their parents families work the farm and dairies and think oh, that's going to be my life," Oden added.