Dream Academy making dreams come true

Corazon+Montero%2C+Mariela+Pizarro-Silva%2C+and+Alexia+Cardoso+present+their+ideas+for+potential+community+impact+projects+at+Cesar+Chavez+Library.
Back to Article
Back to Article

Dream Academy making dreams come true

Corazon Montero, Mariela Pizarro-Silva, and Alexia Cardoso present their ideas for potential community impact projects at Cesar Chavez Library.

Corazon Montero, Mariela Pizarro-Silva, and Alexia Cardoso present their ideas for potential community impact projects at Cesar Chavez Library.

Corazon Montero, Mariela Pizarro-Silva, and Alexia Cardoso present their ideas for potential community impact projects at Cesar Chavez Library.

Corazon Montero, Mariela Pizarro-Silva, and Alexia Cardoso present their ideas for potential community impact projects at Cesar Chavez Library.

Advertisement

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






A dream is a goal with a plan and Ruben Pizarro founded the Dream Academy on this basis. This academy gives the youth of Salinas a goal and a purpose to do something beneficial not only for themselves, but also for the community.

For Pizarro, the seeds of the academy were planted with the 2008 Presidential Inauguration. Back then, 33 Alisal students decided to fundraise money to go to the nation’s Capital and see the inauguration of Barack Obama. “It was so special to be in Washington DC on a historic occasion,” said Pizarro.

After a four year hiatus, Pizarro took a group of 61 students for Obama’s second inauguration. “It was so inspirational the first time that we decided that we have to go back and have other kids experience the same thing. Plus we got the connection with Leon Panetta who was the Secretary of Defense and we were able to get into the Pentagon,” said Pizarro.

Last year Pizarro took 100 Alisal student to New York City under the Dreams of NYC club. They toured many museums and college campuses including Columbia and NYU. “We got to experience many things such as getting on top of the Empire State building and overseeing all of New York City. It was an experience of a lifetime,” said senior Carmen Calderon, who went last year as a junior.

This year Pizarro renamed the group the Dream Academy, which has loftier aspirations than merely being a tour group. “Before we were just about our trip and we were Dreams of DC or Dreams of NYC because that was our final objective but now our final objective is to build leaderships skills into young people so now we see it more as an academy,” said Pizarro. The group now includes underclassmen, students from Salinas, Alvarez, and North County, and the group will travel both to New York City and Washington, DC. “I think it’s cool that we’re going to two places for only another $200 more than last year and they only went to one place,” said Alisal senior Abraham Vargas.

The academy now is more focused on giving back to the community by having the students “adopt” a specific issue or dilemma that may not only affect the local community but worldwide. Some of the local issues they are focused on is implementing ethnic studies in high schools, helping adults become tech savvy and, in a sense, making sure that most families have some sort of computer that they have full access to. Alisal seniors Berenice Bonilla along with Julissa Cardenas saw what the Dream Academy was pre-leadership academy and how it is now. “This year we have the meetings on Saturdays and we have some “familia” groups which we didn’t have last year. Now we have been focusing more on the community and helping out rather than just focusing on going to visit a new place,” said Cardenas

The “familias” are led by the “Dream Team”; what they hope to get out of the students focusing on these issues is for them to grow as individuals, “Leadership does not come from ability, but from responsibility,” said Pizarro. He gives them opportunities that are not only profitable for the students but, also the community. His “Dream Team” is made up of many different types of teachers from the Salinas Union High school district, from media teachers at Alvarez to opportunity teachers at La Paz. “Since we were going to have students from all over the district we wanted teachers from all over the district,” said Pizarro.

It is this team that is always looking on how to further develop the academy and make it different every year, for every student. They plan to get a stronger foothold in the other high schools. Currently the student body is predominantly Alisal High School students. By building a stronger base in other schools it would most likely lead to becoming more selective in choosing participants. “This year students have to apply online and from there they’ll be interviewed. The criteria is a lot of different things not only grades although grades are important, have you been involved in the community that’s important. We try to get a whole understanding of that person and we try to find diversity that will enrich the academy,” said Pizarro.

The highlight of this year’s trip will be a trip to the White House. This opportunity has been in the works since the end of last year’s trip though wasn’t a reality until late April. Trying to get inside the White House is a grueling project. It is not something you can just do spontaneously; you need to send a request in to your local congressman up to six months in advance just for a tour. What Pizarro was able to accomplish for his academy was much more than just a simple tour, there will be official people who will be speaking directly to the students.

Back in 2013 out of the 61 who went, only 25 had actual seats at the inauguration ceremony. This time all 100 plus members of the Dream Academy will have the fortune to step inside the White House. “It is really cool, I hope to meet Obama,” said Alisal junior Angelica Macalisang.

To many members of the Dream Academy the possibility of maybe getting to go to inside the White House was their primary reason of joining. “Getting to go inside the White House was the whole reason I joined, because who thought a kid from Salinas could say he’s been inside the White House,” said Alisal senior Daniel Estrada. Besides getting into the White House the 100 plus students will also be going to Broadway, seeing the Statue of Liberty, going to Grand Central Station, touring many museums like the Holocaust museum and the 9/11 museum this upcoming summer.

It is these types of activities that lead many with the desire to do it all over again; people like Alisal senior Berenice Bonilla, “I wanted to do the trip a second time because the experience was the best and you see so much that you only think about going to but, when you are actually there it’s like your worries go away and you only think about the view in front of you,” she said.

Beyond giving them new sights to see this academy wants to teach the students that nothing is simply handed to them; in life there are opportunities available, it is one’s own responsibility to decide what to do with them. Through all the new experiences they are exposed to in these trips it is easy to say that no member comes out of the Dream Academy with the same way of thinking as going in. “I made a lot of new friends from all different schools. It makes us not see each other as Trojans, or Eagles, or Vikings but simply kids that are doing something new together,” said Alisal senior Alexia Cardoso.

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email