Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Locke High School Students Defy Stereotypes
February 2002, L.A. Youth writer Bianca Gallegos investigates Locke High School, a campus in need of attention.
Some of L.A. Youth’s most closely read investigative articles are about schools. Readers alert us to problems on their campuses, or we hear stories about something that seems amiss, as in the case of Locke High School. Teen writer Bianca Gallegos, a senior at Marshall High School in leafy Los Feliz, was outraged that two LAUSD high schools could be so far apart in academic achievement, safety, graduation rate, etc.
“Teachers don't teach. Kids sneak textbooks out of the class. The best students leave and the worst students transfer in—that's how things have been at Locke High School in Watts, one of the most troubled schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Senior Lucia Ortiz described classes taught by substitutes, or by teachers who didn't bother with lessons. Other students told her that some teachers slept in class or talked on their cell phones.”
February 2010. Teacher Jerica Coffey invited L.A. Youth editors Mike Fricano and Laura Lee to speak to students in her English class at Locke High School #3. That first visit grew to a core group of young writers sharing their stories of growing up in South Central L.A. They defied the stereotypes as disengaged gangbangers and dropouts with compelling narratives about their goals for college and careers, providing a better life for their parents and changing the negative images of impoverished black and Latino teens by mainstream media. Covette, Gabriel, Yesenia, Maritza and Frank published their stories in our March issue.
We celebrated their achievements with a “blow-out” party – balloons, flowers, speeches and each student reading aloud their personal story. The school auditorium was filled with parents, friends, teachers from nearby middle schools, siblings and the L.A. Youth staff.
The group of five expanded to 12 eager writers in the past week and a commitment to meet every Thursday from 3 – 6 pm in Ms. Coffey’s classroom. Mike and Laura are reaching out to the community for a passionate journalist to share his/her time once a week at Locke so that every teen gets to experience a one-on-one relationship with an adult editor.
We’re a necessary idea.