Sierra van Wijk, Staff Writer

Teaneck is known as a majorly diverse community, making the list of the 25 most diverse cities in New Jersey. Within those groups of diversity, a Latino representation is present. On Friday, January 31st, Teaneck High School hosted an event inviting all parents and high school students of Teaneck, New Jersey to attend a presentation by a nonprofit organization of Latino representation, the National Hispanic Institute. The program sent their Senior Vice President Julio Cotto to share the mission of the institution and explain the opportunities they provide high school students.

The presentation started with a typical introduction along with a few mentions of former participants of the programs the institution offers such as current U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and mentions of former Teaneck High School participants such as graduate Amanda Berroa, Senior George Rivera, and current junior Sierra van Wijk. He then proceeded to explain the reason he had come: to showcase the institute’s over 14 summer programs for high school students aimed to increase education and leadership qualities. He began with the program named Great Debate intended for incoming sophomores. The program is an intensive 6-day debate program on one of the many college campuses participating with NHI. The program ends with many available awards for the winners of the competition-like structure of the program. Next, he explained the Lorenzo De Zavala Youth Legislative Session the 8-day program on another college campus which is designed as a mock legislative program including presidential elections, party platforms, and a fully functioning supreme court. Both programs are highly influential on the students who attend and are known to leave lasting qualities within them.

The presenter then passed the microphone over to the NHI student speaker, Sierra van Wijk, otherwise known as me. I shared some stories of the programs I attended and staffed and the life changing experiences I retained. When I was done, Cotto went into the part of the presentation no one likes: the cost of the programs. He described the amount that should be paid for such an exclusive program and goes on to thank and acknowledge that this price is cut by more than half because of contributions to the programs from the campus’ themselves. The presentation ended with a warm welcome to all interested from the Senior Vice President of the organization himself. If all other students have an interest in the programs or NHI at all, contact Ms. Cooper in the Guidance Department and she will reach out to someone who can fill you in more. As for now, Adios!