Thursday, May 30, 2013

Mentors for Highland Park High School celebrate the school's Graduation Ceremony in Los Angeles

Photos from the Graduation Event

Here's the list of Highland Park High School mentors.
The Independent educator salutes these members of the Village that is working with Enrique Gonzalez.
Hey, HPHS Students, how about clicking on these links?

Luís Torres is a veteran broadcast journalist and writer. He retired after 30 years as a reporter with KNX Newsradio, the CBS station in Los Angeles. He is the recipient of many awards including the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award, the duPont-Columbia Award, the Edward R. Morrow Award and nine Golden Mike Awards. He was also awarded an Emmy for a documentary on immigration. He developed the public television series “Chicano! History of the Mexican Amerian Civil Rights Movement.” He’s at work on a book about the 1968 East L.A. high school walkouts.
He holds a bachelor of arts degree in political science from the University of California at Santa Barbara and a master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York. He remains busy as a freelance journalist and writes a regular blog for the website Latinopia. He was raised in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of northeast Los Angeles and currently resides in Pasadena.


Louie Pérez is a founding member of the internationally acclaimed rock band Los Lobos, multi-Grammy Award winners. Together with David Hidalgo he is the band’s principal songwriter. As a boy growing up in East L.A. he picked up a guitar after being inspired by legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix. Los Lobos is about to celebrate its fortieth anniversary.
Pérez has several creative interests apart from his work with Los Lobos. He is a visual artist whose paintings have been featured in galleries both in the United States and Mexico. In addition, he recently co-wrote the play “Evangeline, the Queen of Make Believe” which was staged in Los Angeles and is being prepared for a touring production. The musical draws heavily on songs written by Pérez and Hidalgo.


Jacqueline Cruz was born and raised in East Los Angeles and joined Bienvenidos in the year 2000. For the last eleven years she has dedicated herself to working with adolescents and their families in the community. Since coming to Bienvenidos Jackie has made an impact in the lives of young women; through the CLARITY (Combining Literature Around Reality In Today’s Youth) program. She has helped reduce unplanned teen pregnancies and increased the quality of life amongst young women today. Currently she is one of the prevention specialists for Project SAFE (Salud Arte Familia y Educacion) a Substance Abuse and HIV prevention program for teens and their families.
Luis has worked for ten years in Orange County Probation Department as a Deputy Probation Counselor inside Juvenile Correction facilities. In 1990, Luis Ruan founded and became Executive Director of the Beyond Limits program. Beyond Limits is a 501 (c ) (3) non-profit wilderness backpacking program that works with inner city youth in Southern California. For over seven years, Luis has concentrated his efforts on Native and Indigenous cultures to work and create programs for youth involved in gangs or at high-risk of becoming involved in gangs. He has trained communities, educators, law enforcement staff, counselors and others to work with gang-involved youth in their communities.
Luis coordinated mentors in the community to be role models for the youth and developed a curriculum for the high school site as well as a leadership curriculum that is still being utilized today.
From 2001 to 2003, Luis worked for the Los Angeles Unified School District conducting cultural music presentations for schools throughout Los Angeles County .The workshops were designed to develop cultural awareness and enhance self-esteem through music. Luis is also responsible for teaching South American Andean flute programs to students at Highland Parh High School. The students have performed at numerous venues throughout the city. The purpose of the music program is for youth to develop healthy life skills through the process of artistic development.


Thee Midniters were an East LA band Little Willie G was the lead singer. "Willie G. was one of the most soulful Latin persons I ever heard," said the singer Brenton Wood. "He could really deliver a sermon, and he had a lot of feeling in his vocals." Garcia took obscure soul ballads such as "The Town I Live In" or "Giving Up On Love" and made them more beautiful by his own special delivery. After many years away from the band, Garcia returned in the 1990s.
Thee Midniters have continued to play through the decades under the leadership and management of bassist Jimmy Espinoza and saxophonist Larry Rendon, the two original players remaining in the line-up from the original 1960s group. Since 2006, they have been part of The Latin Legends concert at The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles and were honored as a legendary garage rock band. Among the group's other songs to either achieve national or regional success are "Whittier Boulevard", "Love Special Delivery" and "That's All".Today Willie is the founding minister of Little Wille G Ministires in Whittier, California.

Jose Yenque has over a decade of experience as a professional actor and devoted humanitarian, which earned him an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from California State University San Marcos in 2011. 
2012 Imagen Award nomination ‘Best Supporting Actor” for his performance as DEA agent Enrique “Kike” Camara in 20th Century Fox’s International release “Miss Bala,” produced by Gael Garcia Bernal & Diego Luna. This film premiered at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, was Mexico’s official selection for 2012 Oscar competition for “Best Foreign Film” and also nominated for three 2012 Ariel awards.
His humanitarian efforts and educational outreach include substantive and ongoing service to the youth of the Casa Hogar orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico, motivational talks at orphanages and youth development centers throughout Latin America, and lectures/workshops on high school/college campuses from coast to coast.
Part of Arts for a Better Tomorrow’s acting/filmmaking workshops is an on-going short film series created, written, produce, acted and filmed by the orphanage youth along with professionals in the entertainment industry.


As a youngster Pat Ortega often visited zoos and museums, where she enjoyed drawing what she saw. One of her favorites was Hancock Park , with its bubbling tar and old observation pit. But it was at the Natural History Museum that Pat had the opportunity to view dioramas of modern wildlife and the bones of ancient beasts, as well as their reconstructions through the art of Charles R. Knight and others. It was Pat's discovery of the Knight book 'Life through the ages," which provided a template for her future work.
Already an accomplished young artist, Pat developed a real sense for anatomy and a knack for putting flesh on the bone. For many years Ms. Ortega was known as the "Monster Girl," for her many Fantasy and Science Fiction inspired illustrations. Pat's creations were so unique and seemed to be alive, because her creatures were "born", built up, from the bones up. As her techniques became more refined, Pat worked her way back to Wildlife, Dinosaurs, and Prehistoric Mammals.
Pat Ortega's attention to detail and quiet nature have developed her into an award winning illustrator, who's artworks grace the pages of more than sixty books and publications. In recent years, Pat's reputation has earned the opportunity to be a research associate at the George C. Page Museum of La Brea Discoveries, where she has contributed her designs to many of their projects.
Ortega lives in Los Angeles , and can often be found drawing at the home.


Ritchie Geisel's career has been devoted to leadership and senior fundraising positions in the not-for-profit sector since he received his MBA from Stanford University. He has served a total of 21 years as chief executive officer of four nonprofit organizations, leading two of them through processes of transformational change. Geisel came to Bienvenidos in 2008 from the Virginia Peninsula SPCA, where he served as interim executive director.

From 1998 to 2004 Geisel was president and CEO of AbilityFirst (formerly the Crippled Children’s Society of Southern California), one of the state’s oldest social service organizations. Headquartered in Pasadena with 22 program sites in five counties, AbilityFirst provides support services to more than 2,000 children and adults with developmental disabilities. For 9 years prior to that, Geisel was president and CEO of Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic in Princeton, NJ, the nation’s education library for people with print disabilities. He has also held executive fundraising positions at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, Princeton University, and the College of William & Mary.

A cum laude graduate of Princeton University where he majored in history, Geisel set six university track records and was a three-time winner of the Rosengarten Award for cross country. He subsequently competed in the Olympic trials marathon and in more recent years has achieved All-American age group status in several distance events.

Geisel has two children, five grandchildren and five cats. He and his wife, Pamela, devote their volunteer time to animal welfare causes. Since 2004, Geisel has served as board president of a Los Angeles area rescue organization, Heaven on Earth Society for Animals.

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Cesar Castro, a master artist in ACTA Apprenticeship Program in 2011, hailing from Veracruz, Mexico, has provided a wonderful energy to the fandangos occurring within the Los Angeles area. Since his youth he was a member of the ensemble Mono Blanco, a group that has been a central force in the renaissance of the fandango practice in Southern Veracruz since the 1970s. Learning to play the jarana (an 8 string, 5 course rhythm guitar), guitarra de son (a four string melodic guitar), and the leona (a bass version of the guitarra de son), Castro developed an intimate relationship with these traditional guitars that are carved out of a solid block of cedar wood. A master musician, singer, and an accomplished luthier of jarocho instruments, he brings an experience of accomplishment, and a history that is informed by many elders with whom he worked, studied, and shared time.
Since his arrival to Los Angeles, Castro has interacted with various musicians and ensembles such as Quetzal and Zack de la Rocha, and forming his own groups, Zocalozüe and Cambalache. He expresses how important it is to find community amongst musicians and non-musicians in Los Angeles, stating, "I didn’t come here by myself and create all this (the jarocho scene) that you see." Many things and the efforts of many people were already in place, which helped Castro establish himself to work and "to maintain and practice my culture here and be able to teach to those interested."
Castro’s goal for the apprenticeship was to solidify Flores’abilities so they come naturally, "so that she internalizes the son withconfidence." Flores shares that working with Cesar is a learning experience that goes beyond learning musical technique. At a lesson she "would hear a new story about Don Andres [Vega] or he would use a metaphor that I never heard him use," things that enhanced the music to better understand the culture.
Realizing that the son jarocho of is now being practiced in places like Chicago, San Jose, Seattle, and Los Angeles, Castro "understand[s] it is a responsibility" to preserve the tradition. At the same time, he is fully aware that the son will transform to other expressions as it is integrated into the cultural fabric of the United States. As a response, Castro has invested in representing the son by creating the website Jarochelo.

Steve McCrea
Steve McCrea is a part-time instructor at a charter school and an SAT Test Prep instructor at Broward College in Fort Lauderdale.   He was a traditionally boring lecturer until 2005, when he learned about the innovative methods of Elliot Washor and Dennis Littky.   He uses the flipped classroom (his Youtube channel has several videos with over 200,000 hits at and he trains teachers at   He is looking for young people who want to increase their "impact on the Internet" ( and he enjoys his current work as a virtual mentor for a group of students at Highland Park High School in Los Angeles.   He hopes his program can help students in the USA connect with students in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America.   He welcomes questions at   (954) 646 8246 for text messages.

1 comment:

  1. THis group of mentors clearly has a lot to give to these students. I hope the students appreciate the gifts.