By Jessyca Pizana, Castlemont High School student

Castlemont High School’s Latino population is higher than its African-American population. Over 50% of students are Latinos at Castlemont while 38.4% are African-Americans.

However, there are few Latino/Latina teachers. In the Oakland Unified School District, only 2.3% of teachers are Latinos/Latinas.

Leonardo Morales, a Latino senior at Castlemont, said that Castlemont should have more Latino teachers because it would help students learn and belong.

“There are some parents that don’t speak both languages, Spanish and English. I feel like students should have someone they can turn to for information and guidance.”

He added that it would be useful to have more Hispanic/Latino teachers for translation.

For now, Castlemont helps students connect with Hispanic culture through its Hispanic Heritage Month assembly.

“I think it is important for Castlemont to have this event,” said Norma Verdugo, a teacher at Castlemont.

Verdugo, one of the event organizers, is proud of the school’s performance assembly because it helps all students engage with Hispanic Heritage Month.

Jonathan Whittoy and Alexandria Career, two African-American students at Castlemont High School, both celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month by attending the Castlemont assembly. For Whittoy, the highlight was the assembly’s Aztec dance.

Find links HERE to the complete “Education Voices: Youth seek identity” series.

(Ms. Pizana reported and wrote this story while participating in the Oakland Local Education Voices program in collaboration with Youth Uprising and Castlemont High School. The program was funded by the California Endowment. Find links to the complete series HERE as well as on Castlemont’s CastleCrier newspaper. Ed Voices instructors Shaka Redmond of Youth Uprising and Irene Florez, Barbara Grady and Jon Leckie of Oakland Local congratulate Ms. Pizana.)

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