Sophomores dig deep in ‘Yo Soy Joaquin’ presentations


Howard Ruffner

YO SOY TERRY WALKER — Sophomore Terry Walker reads his poem based on “Yo Soy Joaquin” by Rodolfo Gonzalez in the Media Academy studio on Dec. 16. Walker and other sophomores in Sonja Totten-Harris’ English classes wrote poems in which they addressed identity and culture.

During the fourth annual “Yo Soy Joaquin” presentations” at Media Academy, students expressed themselves through poetry. Some laughed, many cried, and all clapped for classmates.

The sophomores recited their poems, based on “Yo Soy Joaquin”  by Chicano-activist Rodolfo Gonzalez, to their audience in portable B-9 on Dec. 16. In “Yo Soy Joaquin,” Gonzalez expresses the conflicts he faces with his identity.

Sophomore English teacher Sonja Totten-Harris organized the event. Parents, teachers, writing coaches and other students came to the event.

Benjamin Schmookler, Media Academy’s principal, went to enjoy the presentation.

“It was great to just have the kids express themselves about how they felt and all the problems they had in life but still trying to make it through,” said Schmookler. “I think the presentations will become a tradition now.”

In the process of writing the poems, students got to learn about their cultures and their history.

Students such as Ramon Arreola enjoyed the event because they received a lot of support from their peers and families.

“I had fun because I had friends that supported me and I got to go back in my history and find the inner me,” said Arreola, sophomore who presented his poem.

It took the students about two and a half weeks to write the poem.  They said they received a lot of help and support from Totten-Harris and their WriterCoach Connection coaches.

“I’m extremely proud of my sophomores. I think they nailed it,” said Totten-Harris.