Vladovic Honors Ánimo College Preparatory Academy For Community Connection

Hands Around Jordan

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.

Hands Around Jordan

“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.

Hands Around Jordan

Receiving Recognition

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.

Hands Around Jordan

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.”

Read More About Community Partnerships

You may also like:


  1. Angel Angulo on July 2, 2017 at 10:42 am

    As a public school that is receiving government funding, I wonder about the legality of having a religious event be affiliated with the school in this way. I do applaud the attempt but feel that it could have been done without the preaching. While I do not know all of the details, I just don’t see how an event that is supposed to be about diversity is not acknowledging the possible diversity of the students in the case of religion or lack therefof. Reading scripture could be alienating to students who are not of a Christian faith. Also, with the amount of legal cases that are being presented where teachers are leading prayers, allowing prayers at school events, or inviting pastors to preach, I would caution this in the future as it could bring legal trouble to the Green Dot schools if a parent or child at one of the schools feels their rights are being infringed.

    • dbennett on July 17, 2017 at 11:01 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to read and respond. For further clarification, this was an optional event that students and families were not required to participate in. Ánimo College Prep Academy worked with the staff at the Partnership for LA Schools, who lead LAUSD’s David Starr Jordan High School, and other community leaders and groups to help pull this event together.

      Thanks again, and we hope you’ll continue to read and engage the blog!