South Gate Junior High School has opened its Newcomer Center offering programs to Spanish-speaking immigrant students and their parents.
The center is funded by a $200,000 federal grant and is designed to help parents and their children who recently arrived from Mexico or Central America.
Basic English courses are offered to students and their parents. Parents are given tours of the city. They also receive instruction about shopping, health care, and gang and drug problems that may affect their children.
Project director Johanna Rivera said the center offers new arrivals a chance to become active in all school activities. "They won't just be outsiders looking in. They'll be full-fledged members of the school community. They'll really have a chance to dig in and learn," Rivera said.
The majority of the 4,100 students at the junior high are Latino. Officials estimate that at least 25% of the students are limited in their ability to speak English.