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Community Partners, Student Groups Joined LSU Summit at Hamlin

Community Partners, Student Groups Joined LSU Summit at Hamlin
Chakris Kussalanant

Springfield Public Schools (SPS) hosted the first-ever Middle School Latinx Student Union Summit on May 8. Nearly 100 students from Hamlin, Agnes Stewart, Briggs, and Thurston Middle Schools were in attendance. Additionally, about 13 students from Springfield High School's LSU, Thurston High, and A3's Multicultural Student Unions came to serve as breakout room leaders and role models. Also in attendance were students from LCC's MECHA program and Latinx Ambassadors from the University of Oregon (UO). 

The LSU Summit opened with a welcome from Superintendent Todd Hamilton and Elementary School Director Joyce Smith-Johnson, who is the highest-ranking Latina leader at SPS.

"As an educator it was really exciting to see all of the students at this event. They want to be here and we want to provide the opportunity for them to come together, meet peerrs and have some deep and enriching conversations," said Superintendent Hamilton.

Keynote speaker Yuri Espino Sosa (SHS alumni), gave a rousing speech about her educational journey as an immigrant who moved to Springfield at 10 years old, graduated SHS and went on to get a full scholarship to the UO. Espino credited her initial journalism experiences working for SHS' Backcountry Review magazine as key in helping shape her career path and passion for writing.

Students were able to network with peers from other schools before being treated to an electric 30-minute performance by Springfield High School’s Mariachi Del Sol.

Students also met by school for a series of community meetings where older students and adults shared their stories of breaking through barriers and overcoming obstacles to find success.

 At lunch, students were treated to a delicious Latin meal served by nutrition services that included tamales, Spanish rice, and a fresh salad. During lunch, the joy and excitement level was palpable as representatives from SPS's community partners sat on a lunchtime panel and shared about the services they offer to students and families. 

After sharing, panelists drew numbers for a student raffle. Five lucky students who happened to have the correct raffle ticket number left with prize bags. 

Following lunch, students participated in a poetry workshop taught by poet, author, and UO Professor Jesus Sepulveda, and a Latin dance class taught by Angel Hernandez. Students also attended a Latinx identity workshop taught by Native Youth Specialist Rochelle Weiser-Nieto, Migrant Education Director Ana-Quintero-Arias, and Dual Immersion Teacher from Guy Lee Elementary, Monica Tapia. 

“Many of the adults expressed that it was powerful and 'healing' to see the younger generation be encouraged to embrace their language, culture, and identity,” said Xavier Davis, TOSA for the Office Equity and Inclusion.