Daniel Friedman at a blessing ceremony with Gumby the pig, a social media phenomenon in Boyle Heights. Photo from @oyleheightspig Instagram account

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It takes one word to describe the last few months of high school: overwhelming. Students juggle final projects, state exams, college applications, extracurricular activities and multiple deadlines.

But the dedication to maintain good attendance and academics paid off for many Boyle Heights students as they took a break from their academic lives and were rewarded with a concert by current musical artists last week at the Nokia Club at L.A. Live.

About 1,800 students from Roosevelt High School, Mendez Learning Center, Santee Education Complex and Jordan High School who had less than one absence and or a “C” or better in their report cards were able to participate in an incentive program adopted by the mayor’s Partnership for Los Angeles Schools last fall. In an effort to motivate students to “show up” to school and improve their grades, Students Helping Our World (S.H.O.W.) rewards them with celebrity appearances and concerts.

Students made predictions about who would be the guests performing since artists were not revealed until students filled the venue. “We thought maybe Kaye West might show up, so we were extra stoked once we got there,” said Gerardo Flores, a Roosevelt High School senior. But to their surprise, Far East Movement, pop sensation Karmin, Quincy (Puff Daddy’s son) and hip-hop band The Knux were all part of the concert.

For Flores, seeing current artists in a concert is not a common opportunity. He says S.H.O.W. was not only something to encourage himself but he also pushed his friends to meet the requirements because he saw it as an opportunity to create memories.

“It helped me throughout the year to attend school every day and get good grades, because I am a very into the whole music scene and love to see artist put on a show,” said Flores.

Even with the efforts of the entire artists who agreed to perform for S.H.O.W., many students still did not attend the program. For that reason Frank Aguilar, a Roosevelt High School teacher felt a bit skeptical about the program’s purpose, and believes that there are some missing elements to it.

“I think the program in itself is okay, but if it wasn’t for the C and better students pushing their friends, the program would have little success,” said Aguilar. Still he is open to seeing how this program could bring change the PLAS schools. “I hope that encouragement continues, not only from students but also from celebrities and teachers”” support plays a big role in the success of a student.”

According to the Partnership, the incentive program helped Mendez Learning Center’s student body achieve 96 percent or above in-seat attendance this academic school year and became the third high school in all LAUSD to have their teachers submit their attendance sheets 100 percent of the time; the only school in the Partnership Family of Schools to achieve this honor.
 
Photos by Jonathan Olivares.
 

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