The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

February 4, 2013

Students bring speaker to D118

Ojeda to talk at DHS, South View, and North Ridge

DANVILLE — A group of Danville High School students who heard Carlos Ojeda Jr. speak last spring at a conference at the University of Illinois were so inspired by his message, they wanted to bring Ojeda Jr. to Danville.

The students of the Hispanic Leadership Council at DHS will get their chance on Feb. 7.

Ojeda Jr. is a community advocate who has worked extensively with high school and college-aged youths, spreading his message of education, leadership, community activism and entrepreneurship.

As an innovative communicator, Ojeda Jr. has inspired youth, educators and leaders.

Ojeda Jr. will give three motivational and leadership presentations — at 8:45 a.m. at South View Middle School and at 10:15 a.m. at North Ridge Middle School, with a final assembly at 1:30 p.m. at Danville High School.

The Hispanic Leadership Council at DHS will be Ojeda Jr.’s host, with the sponsors being the Danville Public School Foundation, Danville Area Community College, HALO Project of Provena United Samaritans Medical Center Foundation, Danville School District 118 and the Hispanic/Latino Advisory Committee of the City of Danville.

For the last few years, the Hispanic Leadership Council at DHS has been invited to attend the annual Latino Youth Conference at the U of I.

Last April, Ojeda Jr. was the keynote speaker and gave a talk about his life, including his upbringing in Newark, N.J., until gang violence prompted his immigrant parents to move the family to a small town in Pennsylvania. But that’s when the real trouble began for Ojeda Jr.

Suzanne Berkes, an English as a Second Language and art instructor at DHS, who heard Ojeda Jr. speak last year, said, “I thought (his message) would be powerful here because he grew up in a culturally homogeneous neighborhood in Newark … but when he moved to a small town in Pennsylvania, his message is about fitting in and not being from the same culture.

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