Plaza Comunitaria Launches At East High School

KCPS and Mexican Consulate open new program for Mexican nationals and other Latinos

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Kansas City, February 21, 2017: In its continuing mission to serve all students and their families, Kansas City Public Schools has a new place where community members can gather.

PHOTOS BY: Ray Weikal/KCPS

Consul of Mexico in Kansas City Alfonso Navarro-Bernachi and KCPS Superintendent Mark Bedell launched the school system’s new Plaza Comunitaria during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, Feb. 16 at East High School. Dozens of students, parents, staff and neighbors were on hand to celebrate this program, which will provide educational services and other support for Mexican nationals and other Latinos with children in enrolled in KCPS.

Consul Navarro-Bernachi highlighted the many achievements of the Plazas Comunitarias program, which was implemented by the Mexican Government through the Institute of Mexicans Abroad (IME) and the Institute for the Education of Adults (INEA). The Consul also talked about the importance of collaborating with partners like KCPS.

“The inauguration of this Plaza Comunitaria marks the first initiative of this type in the Kansas City, Mo. region,” Consul Navarro-Bernachi said. “It will also strengthen our community outreach efforts in order to provide timely information about consular services, particularly in current times of uncertainty.”

About a third of the students in KCPS are from immigrant families or families whose primary language is something other than English, and most of those are from Latin America. The Plaza Comunitaria is designed to help ensure that more of those families have the resources they need to succeed.

“All of our students benefit from having classmates who come from a wide variety of ethnic, religious, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds,” Dr. Bedell said. “Our students graduate high school comfortable with the variety of individuals in the world. This is particularly important in the modern global economy.”

Dr. Bedell emphasized that KCPS will be a sanctuary for migrant families, adding that he would do everything he could to guarantee that children attend school without the fear of having their parents detained and sent to faraway places.

“As educators, we are privileged to have these families. They are strong and intelligent and they care. They are committed to family and community,” Dr. Bedell said. “Let me make something very clear: no matter their legal status, we will welcome and nurture these new Americans within our schoolhouses.”

The inauguration of this Plaza Comunitaria is a tangible result of the solid partnership between the Mexican Consulate and KCPS that benefits the Hispanic and Mexican community members who live in Kansas City and make great economic, social and cultural contributions on a daily basis.

The new KCPS Plaza Comunitaria will be led by program Coordinator Nayeli Murillo. The program will begin with an English-language class for adults that is scheduled to start at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 2 at East High School.

KCPS plans to expand both the services and the locations of the Plaza as it assesses the needs of its families. The Plaza will also serve as a point-of-connection for services at the Consulate of Mexico in Kansas City.

Family members who would like to sign up for the class or get additional information can contact Ms. Murillo by emailing nmurillo@kcpublicschools.org or calling her at James Elementary School at 816-418-3700. Program updates will also be posted to www.kcpublicschools.org/PlazaComunitaria.

Visit the KCPS Flickr page to see more photos from the Plaza Comunitaria ribbon-cutting ceremony. The full press conference can be seen below.

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