Ceremony shines light on Latino achievements
Elizabeth Rosa Rodriguez, a fifth-grader at Dewey Elementary, smiles for photographs after receiving her award for citizenship Nov. 8 during the 12th Annual Evanston Latino Youth Achievement Awards at Evanston Township High School. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-T
EVANSTON — Aracely Canchola was working as the city of Evanston’s Latino outreach specialist in 2001 when Northwestern University’s Hispanic coordinator approached her.
The university had forged a partnership with members of the African-American community, and it sponsored an event honoring African-American young people.
Would she be interested in something similar for the Latino community?
“Of course,” said Canchola, now a social worker at Evanston Township High School.
Fast forward 13 years, and Canchola, along with proud parents and the city’s high-achieving Hispanic youth, gathered Nov. 8 in the auditorium at Evanston Township High School for the 12th annual Evanston Latino Youth Achievement Awards.
The city of Evanston, Evanston/Skokie School District 65, Evanston Township High School, Northwestern University and First Bank & Trust served as sponsors.
Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl delivered the welcoming address.
The keynote speaker was Sylvia Puente, the executive director of the Latino Policy Forum.
The awards’ goal is to honor and celebrate Hispanic student achievers in four categories – academics, citizenship, sportsmanship and leadership.
“We work with both district teachers and school counselors who nominate the students,” Canchola said.
The nominated young people have their photos along with short biographies printed in a professional-looking program.
Jessica Cardenas, a Nichols Middle School eighth-grader, was nominated for a leadership award.
“I’m so proud of her,” said Delores Cardenas, her mother, noting that another of Jessica’s sisters had received a lot of awards.
Jessica learned about her award from a teacher, “and I was really surprised,’’ she said.
She said she enjoys drawing, and her mother urged her to add a detail.
“Oh, yeah, I have two sketchbooks,” Jessica said.
Winners were named from fourth grade on up.
For leadership, the winners and their schools were: Litzy Segura, fifth grade, Dawes Elementary; Richard Camargo, fourth grade, Lincolnwood Elementary; Franciso Patino, fifth grade, Oakton Elementary; Maria Maldonado, fourth grade, Oakton Elementary; Oliver Pacheco, fifth grade, Washington Elementary; Joselyn Diaz, fifth grade, Washington Elementary; Lesley Escobar, eighth grade, Bessie Rhodes Magnet School; Nico Anon, eighth grade, Martin Luther King Jr. Laboratory; Vanessa Martinez, eighth grade, Chute Middle; Eric Velasco, eighth grade, Haven Middle; Neftali Quiroz, eighth grade, Haven Middle; Jessica Cardenas, eighth grade, Nichols Middle; Miquel Figuero, freshman, Evanston Township High.
For academics: Lucas Zagal, fourth grade, Dewey Elementary; Danielle Sanchez, fifth grade, Lincolnwood Elementary; Michaelle Gonzalez, fourth grade, Willard Elementary; Armando Miranda, eighth grade, Chute Middle School; Alex Velasco, sophomore, Evanston Township High; Julio Heredia Perez, junior, Evanston Township High; Diego Ponce, junior, Evanston Township High; Marilu Sierra, senior, Evanston Township High.
For citizenship: Elizabeth Rosa Rodriquez, fifth grade, Dewey Elementary; Brian Flores, fifth grade, Walker Elementary; Raul Torres, fourth grade, Walker Elementary; Mia Romero-Beasley, eighth grade, Martin Luther King Jr. Laboratory Magnet.
“Congratulations to all our winners,” the ECLR program said, or “felicidades a todos los ganadores.”