Esperanza Academy Student Wins Penn Law Essay Competition

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Esperanza is proud to announce that Esperanza Academy Charter High School 11th grader, Hector Rivera, won the Award of Excellence for the Penn Race, Poverty and Change essay competition for which he wrote a persuasive essay about Lau v. Nicols, a case that paved the way for ESL accommodations to guarantee more educational equality.

He received recognition and time to present at the Penn Race, Poverty and Change in America: The Persistent Dilemmas of Equity and Equality symposium. The symposium commemorated the anniversaries of Brown v. Board, the Civil Rights Act, the War on Poverty, and Lau v. Nicols and aimed to bring together scholars from a range of disciplines to examine the themes of the 60-year history for civil and equal rights within contemporary environments that argue for a post-racial society.

Hector entered the competition under the guidance of his Social Studies teacher, Julie Ufberg, who offered the essay prompts to her class as a way to introduce the topics as well as give students the opportunity to engage the material in a meaningful way.  In a school such as Esperanza Academy, where all students are minorities with 95% being Hispanic and 5% African American, it is especially important to offer students the opportunity to understand the history which has brought us to this point in American society, but also the work still left to be done.

Institutions in our city, such as Penn Law School, promote a discourse that raises questions “including whether and how matters of place, race, poverty, and social change are used to debate persistent dilemmas around discrimination, access, and opportunity within and outside political arenas.”  These aren’t purely academic problems. These are problems that affect the lives of our community members every day, problems of joblessness, poor schools and low-quality schooling, neighborhood blight, and high levels of incarceration.

Preparing students who are critically thinking, socially capable, spiritually sensitive and culturally aware through high-quality education is the mission of Esperanza Academy Charter School.  Honing the talent of incredibly smart and gifted students like Hector and giving them the opportunity to be exposed to a larger sphere of influence is the key to improving conditions for Hispanic communities across America.