The Butte College LEAP Academy serves 95 first generation high school students from Butte and Glenn counties and will gear up for a special presentation from Ann Jaramillo, author of La Linea (The Line), arriving as a guest lecturer on March 19 at 1 p.m. in the Butte College ARTS building theater on the main campus.
Annually, the LEAP Academy features a book in common each year. This year students are reading La Linea (The Line), the story of a brother and sister making the perilous trip north from Mexico to California to reunite with their parents. Jaramillo, a junior high school English as a Second Language teacher in Salinas, CA, will be lecturing and signing books for the LEAP students.
The LEAP Academy is a partnership with Butte College, Migrant Education, Educational Talent Search (CSUC), California Mini-Corps (CSUC), and the US Forest Service. The 9th – 12th grade participants, mostly Latino, attend six Saturday academy sessions, which started in January and run through April.
“It’s one of the highlights of the program each year for the students to meet the author of the book they are reading. That’s why we always choose a book that the students can not only personally relate to but also one written by an author who is accessible to us,” said Zuniga. “It’s very exciting for them to meet an author and to get their books signed.”
Many of the students catch a Butte College bus at 6:30 a.m. to get to the college which is held on its main campus. Once on campus the students enjoy a light breakfast before rotating through the morning academic sessions of Chicano Studies, Language Arts and Art. Morning sessions are followed by lunch and afternoon sessions which include a variety of activity classes including college awareness and career workshops.
“This is a highly motivated group of students to be giving up their Saturdays to attend school,” said Zuniga.
Zuniga stated that the students also earn 1 unit of college credit
The culminating project for the LEAP Academy V students will be a group presentation with each group focusing their presentation on a chapter from La Linea.
“This project gives students the opportunity to work in small groups and offers public speaking experience, both of which are important skills to have for college,” said Zuniga.
While Zuniga says they are in the process of organizing a formal data collection method to determine how many LEAP students go on to attend college, he says that “anecdotally” he knows that many LEAP students do enroll in college.
“Last year we had about 15 seniors in the program and I know that 10 enrolled at Butte College after they graduated from high school,” he said.