San Marcos High School ~ Santa Barbara, CA

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Community Roots and Collective Resilience: the 2024 SBUSD Ethnic Studies Community Celebration

Noelle Cabrera
San Marcos Ethnic Studies Club members seniors Zoe Javanbakht and Kavya Suresh pose behind their table, which features an “Ances-Tree.” Attendees were encouraged to write an important part of their upbringing and background on a paper “root” and tape it to the tree.

For many SBUSD students, Ethnic Studies is more than a class or a requirement. 

As said by Artnelson Concordia, SBUSD Ethnic Studies Instructional Support Specialist, “It’s the metaphorical seeds of hope, knowledge, and love of self and community; solidarity; humanity; liberation and change, that grows and spreads because we take these learnings with us wherever we go and whomever we become.”

SBUSD Ethnic Studies Instructional Support Specialist Artnelson Concordia addresses attendees (Noelle Cabrera)

This spring, the first cohort of SBUSD students to have Ethnic Studies as a graduation requirement will say goodbye to high school and venture into the world with the learnings, skills, and resources the Ethnic Studies classes have equipped them with. This accomplishment, along with many others, was celebrated at the annual Ethnic Studies Community Celebration on May 1 at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum.

The celebration was purposefully planned for May 1, which is International Workers’ Day, otherwise known as May Day. This day is an annual commemoration of workers and their achievements and struggles in the fight for better pay, working conditions, and other rights.

The event’s theme was “Community Roots and Collective Resilience,” echoed in multiple speeches throughout the evening. Various community organizations including the San Marcos Ethnic Studies Club, Mujeres Makers Market, Mind Garden, and DPHS Media set up tables. Attendees engaged in the activities offered at the different tables, including jewelry making,

Attendees make their own jewelry at one of the tables (Noelle Cabrera)

button making, and adding roots to the “Ances-Tree.” Community members, such as SBUSD teachers, parents, board members, and even Superintendent Maldonado, were in attendance.

Food was provided by Mony’s, with cupcakes by Crushcakes for dessert. 

The event was emceed by SBUSD teachers Joseph Velasco, Hannah Krieshok, and Alejandra Loranzano. Artnelson Concordia opened with a Land, People, and Planet Acknowledgement, followed by a welcome speech by Mia Lopez, Coastal Chumash member, Cultural Educator and Resource Protector, and founding director of Su’nan, a.k.a. The SPACE.  

San Marcos High School students Kavya Suresh and Noelle Cabrera were honored as graduating seniors for their commitment to the Ethnic Studies Department throughout the years. They are co-presidents of the San Marcos Ethnic Studies Club and both spoke on how Ethnic Studies classes changed their lives.

“Generations of students have been fighting for the right to be liberated from the oppression perpetuated by the educational institutions; to decolonize their education and truthfully learn about their ancestry; to rewrite and reframe curricula to quiet dominant narratives and center marginalized voices,” said Suresh in her speech. “Ethnic Studies has realized all those visions for me. I know Ethnic Studies will stick with me for life.”

A local group performs at the celebration (Noelle Cabrera)

These speeches were followed by performances from local groups including the Santa Barbara High School Folklorico Club, Danza Tolteca Izkalotl, and Xochipilli de Santa Barbara. To end the program, there was a raffle for items such as SBUSD Ethnic Studies shirts, posters, and gift cards to local businesses. 

Even though the community celebration is over, the impacts of the Ethnic Studies Department on our schools and students are everlasting. As stated in the program, the class of 2024, along with all other future classes, will “bring their ethnic studies lens to their lives and our communities in pursuit of solidarity and justice.”

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About the Contributor
Noelle Cabrera
Noelle Cabrera, Editor in Chief
Noelle is an 12th grader at San Marcos High School. This is her fourth year on The King’s Page and she is now the Editor in Chief. Journalism is currently her favorite class and she is also a member of the San Marcos Ethnic Studies Club. Outside of school she volunteers with animals, is a member of the Youth Making Change Board and is in the Santa Barbara Chapter of GenUp.
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