Editor's note: This letter was read aloud at the West Sonoma County Union High School District board meeting on March 10 and is penned by the co-presidents of El Molino High School's Raza Club.
To the Board Members of the West Sonoma County High School District,
We are representing the voices of the Latinx student body at El Molino. In this letter, we are representing the first-generation students, the historically underrepresented, the immigrants, the second language learners and the low-income struggling members of the community. Upon hearing the devastating news that our El Molino campus, the school which has cultivated its own culture into its students and made it a safe and welcoming environment for its students in the county, was going to close and consolidate with Analy High School, we were nothing more but in pure disbelief and very discontent.
Today, the day when you decide between keeping our school thriving for as long as it can and affecting hundreds of students and families who consider El Molino to be their home and part of their culture, we ask you to think twice. We have heard what teachers and parents have to say about the topic, but have you actually taken time to hear students’ faint voices in the back of the room? And even fainter voices of the historically underrepresented student body? Many of us are struggling in different ways; we’ve had to deal with fire evacuations, flood evacuations, a pandemic, distance learning challenges, and power outages. And consolidation just adds to this immense pile of stress students at El Molino High School have to experience. Do not create another barrier for the west county Latinx student population. Your job is supposed to do what’s best for us, the students, please do not fail us. We ask that you help us heal during such challenging times and help minimize the division currently in west Sonoma County.
Today is the day when you decide if you’re going to take one of our community’s most valuable things away from us. The culture that has been created and evolving inside the invisible walls of our El Molino campus will be pulverized and ignored thanks to your countless years of irresponsibility that have been stacking on top of each other. Our community will never be the same; the exciting, sad, sorrowful, happy memories that El Molino holds will vanish if you do not make the right choice tonight. Think about us, not for us.
We must emphasize that the Latinx graduation rate is high at El Molino. For the past two years, our Latinx graduation rate has been 100% including the completion of Senior Projects. The El Molino students are proud of this. What El Molino has done for the historically underrepresented student body is nothing but support and its smaller school size is a contributing factor. What will happen if we create a much bigger high school to the Latinx students? Will we have the same access to educational programs when we must travel from a far distance? How will you ensure that we are guaranteed the same opportunities as those families who reside within walking distance or have a shorter commute to Analy? To some, El Molino is their first home, and to many, it is the only stable environment there is.
We demand of you to make the right decision tonight. Allow our school to remain open even if it is for another year so you may develop a fiscal recovery plan that helps us build a stronger Latinx community together on a districtwide level. The Latinx community needs your support. We ask you to make a sound decision that benefits the student body, and allows us to keep our “casa” open.
¡Please hear our voices! ¡Nosotros también tenemos una voz!
Thank you for your time.