Short Takes

By Ann Bradley — March 01, 2005 1 min read

The video shows a television reporter interviewing a frantic father who has reported his teenage daughter to the police as missing. He hasn’t seen Lupe since the morning, he says in Spanish, and can’t imagine where she could be.

Just then, the reporter learns from her anchorwoman that the girl has been found: She’s volunteering at a Baltimore social-service agency.

The father is mystified by this turn of events, but soon learns that Lupe is working there to fulfill a Maryland graduation requirement and didn’t tell him because he always insists she come straight home after school.

“Community-service learning hours” is just one topic explained to Spanish-speaking parents on the 13-minute video, which was made by students at Baltimore’s Patterson High School.

The school and the St. Michael Outreach Center, a social-service agency in Baltimore, are using the video to reach out to Latino parents, many of whom don’t speak English and are unfamiliar with the traditions and requirements of American high schools, said Dianna Rogers Ford, a guidance counselor at the 1,800-student school.

“This is an example of how students can speak up,” said Adriana Fuentes, 17, a senior from Bolivia who plays the anchorwoman in the video, which is in Spanish with English subtitles.

In one skit, a girl tells her friend that she’s excited to have been invited to the prom—but doesn’t know what it is. Once she learns, she and the friend discuss how to pay the fees that allow students to attend.

In another, a mother talks up the value of participating in extracurricular programs to a bored teenager looking for something to watch on TV.

“Imagine all that your father and I have suffered to come to this country so that you can take advantage of the opportunities before you!” she says.

After hearing about sports, yearbook, debate club, and other activities as part of her mother’s lecture, the girl vows to take part in offerings at her school.

A version of this article appeared in the March 02, 2005 edition of Education Week