Student Resource Fair to rally the community around education | New


The Project RACE school supply giveaway is coming up, but this year’s event will offer more than pencils and backpacks.

During the third annual backpack distribution last year, Project RACE distributed 1,600 backpacks filled with school supplies to students across the valley.

It was a successful event, said program director Cynthia Lentini, but she received feedback from the community suggesting it could better meet the needs of students and families. This year, Project RACE has expanded the free public event into a Student Resource Fair, taking place July 30 at Mision Y Convento. The event will still offer free school supplies and will host representatives from local employers, colleges and community organizations. There will also be a COVID-19 vaccination clinic on site, with a follow-up clinic taking place on August 17 to administer the second doses.

“I really hope to see families come and take advantage of whatever is available,” Lentini said. “I hope to see that community spirit that I know we have in Española: the community that supports our students and sends them into the new school year with a pat on the back.”

Lentini said she hopes bringing together various local resources for the event will benefit family members as well as students. Some of the aligned organizations include Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Hands Across Cultures, Tewa Women United, RAC Stop, Operation Engage, Youth Development, Inc., and the Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation. Representatives from Northern New Mexico College, the University of the Highlands of New Mexico, and the University of New Mexico-Taos will be in attendance, along with recruiters from the Española Fire and Police Departments and the Bureau of the Rio Arriba County Sheriff.

“One of the things we teach our kids in the life skills program is to know their resources,” Lentini said. ” It’s really important. The main goal is for our students to know that there is a whole community that is ready and willing to support them.

Unlike years past — in which the event focused on younger students — Lentini said attendees will be able to fill their own backpack or tote bag with items tailored to the educational needs of all students.

This year, Lentini said, available school supplies will include more items for high schoolers, like scientific calculators, which she says can be expensive and hard to find in the Valley.

The Student Resource Fair will also feature raffles with door prizes including Macbooks and gas cards.

Lentini hopes high school students, in particular, will connect with Project RACE community partners like Big Brothers Big Sisters and consider becoming mentors.

She credited four Project RACE High School interns — Guadalupe J. Zavala-Orozco, Aracely J. Orozco-Rodriguez, MairahLee Garcia, and Alexis Aragon — who helped plan the event and adjust the school supply list. The four future high school students receive training in administrative assistance, Lentini said. They were connected to the RACE project through the HelpNM summer internship program.

Lentini also acknowledged the help of local leaders Diego López, Wendy Croze, Bryan Maestas and Ashley Lopez-Crespin in organizing the student resource fair.

RACE Project (Rio Arriba Community Empowerment) receives federal funds through the New Mexico High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program to implement countywide programs aimed at reducing drug and alcohol use, increasing graduation rates , reduce crime and teach life skills to students.

Lentini spends much of his time during the school year in classrooms across the Valley teaching third-grade students and up skills they might not learn in their regular classes, like coping strategies. to trauma and build healthy relationships as well as cultivate emotional intelligence, career readiness and self-esteem. The program was designed to address many of the underlying issues that cause addiction, she said, and it is an important part of the program in an area that has high rates of drug addiction. , alcoholism and death by overdose.

In June, Project RACE launched a daily summer program to provide “grandparent respite” for grandparents currently raising their grandchildren, which Lentini said the program’s interns helped launch. While giving grandparents a break, she said they also involve children in programming, such as a Monopoly collaborative board game activity tailored to teach community building and social responsibility. Project RACE is gearing up for another event this year where students will participate in building a lowrider with members of the community.

Lentini said all students and families, including tribal neighbors, are welcome at the Free Student Resources Fair in Plaza de Española on July 30 from noon to 5 p.m.


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