Celeste Hernandez (Middle School Program Assistant)
One of the reasons I enjoy being involved in the middle school program at Legacy LA is because every week is different. Every day of the week focuses on a different activity that we feel enriches our youth in some way. Just recently Mondays have become “Motivational Mondays” where we ask influential people from the surrounding community to come speak to the students. They usually talk about their upbringing and the struggles they have had to overcome to be in the position they are today. I personally enjoy learning about people’s backgrounds, and seeing how these personal stories can motivate the students to stay in school and work hard is very fulfilling.
Tuesdays are usually dedicated to taking the students on special outings because they get out of school early. Typically, they are taken on hikes, but visits to college campuses have also been in the works. We like to introduce them to different hiking trails throughout the greater Los Angeles area so they can be physically active, have an appreciation of nature, and become familiar with places that may be unknown to them. A few of the locations they have been so far include Griffith Park, Ernest E. Debs Regional Park in Montecito Heights, and Fish Canyon Falls in Duarte. Having been on a few of these hikes with the students, I can see how much they appreciate being outdoors and how excited they are to see these new environments.
In March our middle schoolers had the opportunity to visit California State University, Northridge to experience first-hand what a typical college campus is like. Our program coordinator Isaac Caldera was able to set up a tour of the campus with a former Legacy LA student. She graciously took the time out of her day to show us around the beautiful campus and the students even had a chance to see inside the new dorms. Afterwards we visited an organization in Northridge called Angel’s Nest, which helps provide housing for college students from the foster care system. As a staff member at Legacy LA I feel that it is never too early to get our youth to start thinking about college and campus tours are a great way to inspire and motivate them to continue their education.
Newspaper Club takes place on Wednesdays. A few noteworthy articles are selected out of the local newspaper for the students to take turns reading aloud. The goals of the activity are to improve their vocabulary, reading comprehension and public speaking skills, and to make them aware of current events. When they are finished reading an article their critical thinking skills are put to the test when we ask them questions and get them to form their own opinions on the subject matter. The staff members really look forward to hearing what the students have to say about the global issues they read about and they often surprise us with their reasoning.