Latino Education Advancement Program enters fifth year

Posted at 9:54 PM, Jun 25, 2012
and last updated 2012-06-25 21:54:40-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--The Latino Education Advancement Program is a four week college prep course held at the Steward School.

It's aimed at enriching the educational lives of Hispanic students who go to different high schools across Richmond.

"Our message is not only do I want you to stay in school and graduate from high school. Do the very best you can get the highest grades you possibly can so that you can go on to college,” Melanie Rodriquez, LEAP Director, said.

LEAP is now in its fifth year of their program. Each summer they take their students to college campuses like J. Sergeant Reynolds to show them how to take that next step into college.

Each of the 60 plus students this summer are bilingual.  Part of the goal is help LEAP students overcome the obstacles language barriers can create at home and at school.

"Learning everything in English at school, and then coming home trying to explain to my mom in really didn't work out,” Selenna Reynoso, Senior at L.C. Bird, said. "Whatever you learn in your native language, that skill usually transfers over and can be applied to learning English at the same time.”

The first class of LEAP students who went completely through the program all graduated from high school last year, and now all of them are now going to college.

But the program's purpose is loftier than even that.

"We want them to find a cause greater than themselves,” Ken Seward, Headmaster at The Steward School said. “That they can make a difference...make the world a better place.”