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Classes teach students about cultural connections on both sides of the border

Texas education leaders can take a page out an El Paso class history book to teach kids across the state about Hispanic heritage.

A month since the Texas State Board of Education announced plans to create a course on Mexican-American studies, ABC-7 explores the curriculum already offered here in El Paso.

Bowie High School students flip through the pages of their “Chicano” history book learning about important moments in Mexican-American history.

Veronica Castillo Luna teaches the class, and said many students are surprised at what they learn.

“For example, that Texas belonged to first Spain then to Mexico,” said Castillo Luna.

Much of the work students do in the elective course consists of research-based projects they present to peers.

Figures like Cesar Chavez are part of the curriculum, but so are lesser-known people, like Carmelita Torres, who instructors say was a 17-year-old maid who protested toxic chemical baths El Paso Mayor Tom Lea once required.

“There’s way more laying behind those faces then are just portrayed in front of us,” said Jorge Muniz, a sophomore taking the class.”It definitely makes me feel grateful for what other people gone through.”

Castillo Luna said with Bowie less than a mile from the border, the class helps kids connect with their cultural roots on both sides of the border.

“It’s a very positive class because they can see that OK they are not the only ones that struggle,”Castillo Luna said. “Some people have struggled before, but if you’re persistent you can get a lot of things in your life.”

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