Students and families from Ánimo College Preparatory Academy (ACPA) and David Starr Jordan High School, who share the campus in Watts, felt a need to uplift and unite the community around Jordan. So in order to kick off the school year, ACPA history teacher Yeccenia Alaniz and principal Dr. James R. Marín hosted a community event called “Hands Around Jordan.” Local pastors Jose Hernandez, David Trujillo, Mike Cummings and Robert E. Green worked alongside Alaniz and Marín to plan the event.
“As a school we need to be connected to the community that we are endowed to serve so that we can meet the needs of our students, parents and community members,” said Marín.
The evening was focused on four key themes: love, hope, peace and unity. Pastor Jose Hernandez, Pastor David Trujillo, Pastor Mike Cummings, and Pastor Robert Green, read scriptures related to each theme, respectively, and spoke about how we can live these themes out.
To contribute to this moment of reflection and celebration, student speakers shared stories about their struggles growing up in Watts, and encouraged their peers to remain strong and committed to both their academic future and service to the community. In addition, the Olive Branch Baptist Church Choir helped lead the community in song and worship.
“The event was truly inspirational because it touched the hearts and minds of our community, and created unity and hope for a community that has been historically marginalized and oppressed,” said Alaniz.
Moving forward, “Hands Around Jordan” will be an annual event to start and end the school year at the Jordan campus.
ACPA is one of nine schools that will be awarded a Certificate of Achievement by the Los Angeles Unified District’s (LAUSD) Human Relations Diversity and Equity Commission this month. Schools were chosen by LAUSD Board members for creating inclusive and affirming campuses that celebrate or promote sexual and gender diversity; students with exceptional needs; intergroup and cultural understanding; campuses that are free from bullying, body shaming, intolerance, and bias; or healthy dating relationships.
The award was a result of LAUSD’s Office of Human Relations, Diversity and Equity (HRDE) program’s desire to honor exemplary programs that improved the climate and culture of high school campuses. Knowing the many factors that can negatively impact the culture of a high school campus, the district celebrates schools that go out of their way to create peaceful, nurturing, and respectful environments.
“ACPA’s application was a unique project that connected the school to the community through ‘Hands Around Jordan,’” said a representative from Dr. Vladovic’s office.
“One of the key qualities we look for is ways that schools can join with the community to create a two-way opportunity for learning that shows the impact community groups can make on student growth. ACPA broke down the “fences” that rim the school and reached out to bring partners into the learning environment of the school.”