Looking for a new way to get the students more motivated and actively involved in their education, the staff at Salt River High School held a Rally for Success Day, when SRHS alumni would come back to visit their old high school and talk about their high school days with the current students. SRHS instructor Chris Wakley and school staff have been working on this idea since September, and on January 28 a group of former students who graduated from 2001 to 2009 attended the Rally for Success forum to answer questions from the current high-schoolers.
“Our goal was to give our students a viewpoint from the alumni of Salt River High and Desert Eagle schools,” said Wakley.
The current students were divided into three groups and sent to the SRHS gym, cafeteria and lecture hall. Waiting for them at each location were five former SRHS students, ready to answer questions or discuss topics of interest regarding life after high school. The alumni talked about their current lives and goals, and what they missed about high school. They also offered encouraging words for the future grads.
Listening and Learning
One topic that SRHS students asked the alumni about was gaming revenue.
Former Desert Eagle student and graduate Rosa Cruz told the students that getting a “per cap” check is just “some free money on the side” and is not intended to be used to live off of, “not if you want the nice things in life.” Cruz advised, “You need to have a good job to live of off, (and) getting a per cap check is a stepping stone to get started.”
Dwayne Manuel agreed, telling the students that if they want to grow up and be adults, they will have to go out and find jobs and not try to live on only the per capita payments.
Rito Lopez, who attended Desert Eagle, told students that per capita is not sufficient by itself to raise his family on.
The kids also asked if the guests had ever thought about dropping out of high school.
“There were times when I thought about it,” said Pila Lopez. “But I knew that education was the key to my success, and so I continued.”
As far as developing good habits that will benefit them in adulthood, most of the alumni advised the younger students to pay attention to each subject and any lesson an adult has taught them, as well as to learn study habits early on because they will be useful again in college.
Another topic that was discussed was how pregnancy or becoming a young parent affected students’ lives forever. Some of the alumni had been teen mothers themselves, and they talked about the struggles they went through to finish school.
The former students all said that they didn’t miss the uniforms that they once had to wear, or the school lunches. Many explained how they had to eat outside when they were at Desert Eagle and how sometimes they would get food from the Huhugam Ki museum kitchen when it was still open.
All of the questions that the students asked were developed by them, without input from their teachers.
“None of the teachers stopped students from asking any questions, or interfered with how they answered each other,” said Wakley. “The forum was pretty much open to both of them. The turnout was awesome for the first time.”
Wakley said that all the students listened to the alumni and that he hoped it encouraged the current students to continue school.