Unidos is enriched by the Newcomer Program

Ella Kressel, Staff Writer

Unidos is a student led latinx group here at South that is meant to create a safe and educational space for all students. Not only does Unidos create a safe space for latinx students to express their heritage and culture, it also creates a learning space for students of all other races.

“The environment is so accepting and everyone is welcome. We have all kinds of students in Unidos,” says Lisbeth Gutierrez, a Senior at South. She is starting her fourth year being apart of Unidos. Gutierrez’s older brother joined Unidos a few years after it started and brought her to her first meeting in the beginning of her freshman year.

This year Gutierrez started taking more responsibility as ambassador. As an at ambassador she works closely with our Newcomer students.

The Newcomer program is meant to be helpful to students who are coming from foreign countries. The program works in many ways to help the students around obstacles they often have to face, as students who often face language barriers or are yet to fully understand our education system.  Gutierrez works her best to immerse them into the Unidos program to help them with these obstacles; if that is something students show interest in.

“Making sure [that] Newcomers have a place [where] they feel they belong,” Unidos supervisor, Delania Haug,a dedicated South High english teacher, expressed.      

Although Unidos is a student led program they need to have an advisor, Haug has been working with Unidos now for two years. Along with providing the Unidos students with a space to hold meetings every Thursday after school, she also helps them access money when necessary. Haug recalls that last year is when the meetings really started making a difference- when last years president started taking Unidos seriously.  

More sincere planning and thought started going into meetings and more and more students showed up. “At one time, I mean, forty to sixty kids were showing up every week.” This year Haug is trying to keep Unidos growing. She feels with this year’s executive board that shouldn’t be a problem.                                                                                               

New to Unidos this year is how much they are working with the Newcomer Program. At the beginning of the school year, students from Unidos went around the school to speak to students in the Newcomer Program about Unidos. Working closely with them has been extremely beneficial for all the students.

Since the Newcomer students have been going to more meetings, the Unidos meetings have transformed from completely english meetings to the meetings being primarily in spanish.

This year, Unidos has become very interested in working with other latinx school groups. The past few years they have gone to the University of Minnesota to work with their students. Last year on their trip to U of M, Southwest also attended. The students connected very well and since have been working together. The Unidos students were very excited this past Thursday to be able to attend a mixer with other latinx groups, they met with students from El Colegio, Southwest, Washburn and Alianza.

Unidos is focused on strengthening their community, education,culture, and this year they were extremely excited to participate in Hispanic heritage month. Another critical part of this years plans is helping Unidos students with college readiness and making sure students know how to access education after high school.

Throughout the past 5 years, Unidos has changed significantly. Their meetings have transformed from 20 minute long meetings that consisted of, short introductions, to planned and themed meetings, trips, projects, a close community, and now, these meetings are almost half students from the Newcomer program.