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‘The Graduates’ Highlights Latinos’ Fight for the Right to Education

Photo: Courtesy Photo, License: N/A

Courtesy Photo

One who did it—Chastity Salas lived at a homeless shelter with her mother and siblings and is now enrolled in college

“If it wasn’t for the program, I’d [have] dropped out already,” said Brandon, one of many kids who thought of trading education for a “sad job, flipping burgers.”

The Partners Program started as a pilot program at Mark Twain and Irving middle schools, then expanded to four middle schools. After demonstrating great success, in October 2010 it received a $14 million federal grant and was expanded to all middle schools in the district, where it continues to this day. Mendiola and producer Faith Radle will be on-hand for a discussion about Skipping Up after the screening.

The Graduates/Los Graduados and its companion shorts highlight two kinds of heroes: the students and their teachers/administrators. One of the most memorable is Anthony Riccardo, assistant principal at the bilingual Panamerican International School in the Bronx. “People freak out when they find out I have undocumented students,” said Riccardo in Immigrant High, one of the companion shorts. “My own mother doesn’t understand the concept that even the undocumented have a right to an education. They think these kids are coming here to take jobs from healthy Americans, which is so ignorant and wrong. But the most important thing about these kids … is that they’re coming here under circumstances that they [cannot] necessarily control.”

KLRN’s Community Cinema events, part of PBS’ Independent Lens series, will continue with The State of Arizona (Nov-Dec), Las Marthas (Jan-Feb), The Trials of Muhammad Ali (Feb-March) and The New Black (May-June). Visit for more info.

*This article has been updated from the original to reflect the contributions of Bernardo Ruiz, Pamela Aguilar, Katia Maguire, and Carla Gutiérrez.

KLRN Community Cinema presents ‘The Graduates/Los Graduados’

6:30pm Thu, Oct 17
Santikos Embassy 14
13707 Embassy Row (281 & Bitters)
(210) 496-4957
(‘The Graduates/Los Graduados’ will also air at 9pm Mon, Oct 28 and Nov 4 on KLRN)

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