Hey. My name is Francisco. You met me last year because I was a member of the FREE LA High School Class of 2015.
What am I up to now? I'm finishing up my second semester at Santa Monica Community College (SMCC). Next year I'll be a sophomore. I recently changed my major to sociology.
I've been involving myself in the student community a lot since I started at SMCC. I started a club called Homeboys & Homegirls. It's a club for students like myself that were previously (or might still be) involved in gangs and/or using drugs. We meet every Tuesday on campus to give each other support that we can't find anywhere else. A lot of times, we're motivated to go to school 2-3 days a week. But by Thursday or Friday, we lose motivation. Homeboys & Homegirls is there to pump each other up. Get us to come to school. Stay in school. Right now, the club has got 20 members.
I am also one of the YJC members who has been working hard to end solitary and room confinement for youth in California. I testified in LA County and traveled several times to the state Capitol. We won an end to the practice in LA! And we are Co-Sponsors of Senate Bill 1143, and just got the bill through the Senate along with Senator Leno, Ella Baker Center and Children's Defense Fund. It feels good to make sure other youth don’t get treated the way I did when I was in juvenile hall.
YOUTH JUSTICE COALITION wrote -
Meet some of the stars of FREE LA High School's Class of 2016: Jocelyn. Kevin. Dania. Bonnie. Josephine. Andrew. These students are graduating from high school while also helping to support their families, getting up in darkness to get younger brothers and sisters to school, working hard to get off Probation or Parole, and crossing borders with cement walls and razor wire (whether those borders separate parents from children in foster care, incarcerated youth from opportunities outside, or separate families across national boundaries). Some are raising their own children. Some leave school to go to a full-time job at night. All came back to high school at FREE LA - some with zero credits - after traditional schools pushed them out, suspended, expelled, arrested and even incarcerated them. Even when teachers, principals, Probation officers, and even some family and friends told them that a high school diploma was not in their future, they dared to believe that it was possible. And now they are graduating, and even more important, they are excited about what comes after graduation. Most impressive of all, these graduates have accepted that their own progress is not enough. They have helped to lead work to dismantle the school to jail track, expose the inhumanity of conditions inside juvenile halls, jails and prisons and challenged police violence. We also check back in with Francisco, a member of FREE LA High School's Class of 2015, to see what he's been up to since graduation. Take a few minutes to meet these graduates. And, if possible, make a donation to support the future graduates of FREE LA High School. THANK YOU!