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A Spanish news program at this CT high school aims to empower diverse student voices

Maloney High School students Steven Astacio (left) and Chris Marmol broadcast the school's all-Spanish news program.
Maricarmen Cajahuaringa
/
Connecticut Public
Maloney High School students Steven Astacio (left) and Chris Marmol broadcast the school's all-Spanish news program.

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Maloney High School in Meriden has launched Café y Charla, an all-Spanish news project, aimed at fostering inclusivity and community engagement within its Hispanic population. The online broadcast informs parents about school events and resources while gathering feedback to enhance communication and involvement.

Students like Freshman Chris Marmol and Senior Steven Astacio from the Dominican Republic have found a sense of purpose and belonging through their involvement in these programs.

"I feel good because I like doing these things," Chris said. "I also enjoy doing community service, working hard for my grades, and all that.”

Chris and Steven’s said the school gives them a platform for students to express themselves and contribute to their communities.

"I feel very fortunate to have been given this opportunity to be here,” Steven said. “I feel like I'm helping people at school."

Each weekday morning, the broadcast starts at 6:30 am before the school's morning announcements and is available on-demand on the school's YouTube channel.

The project is a result of the introduction of the Adelante after-school club, sponsored by the Spanish community of the nearby Town of Wallingford, where students from that district meet at Maloney to discuss representation, empowerment, and cultural diversity. The club also contributes to the community through volunteer service hours.

Marissa Cardona, the college and career coordinator at Meriden Public Schools, says over 50% of the school's population identifies as Hispanic and the broadcasts have been instrumental in bridging the gap between the school and its Hispanic parents and students.
Maricarmen Cajahuaringa
/
Connecticut Public
Marissa Cardona, the college and career coordinator at Meriden Public Schools, says over 50% of the school's population identifies as Hispanic and the broadcasts have been instrumental in bridging the gap between the school and its Hispanic parents and students.

Marissa Cardona, the college and career coordinator at Meriden Public Schools, has been instrumental in bridging the gap between the school and its Hispanic parents and students.

“Ask them, you know, ‘how can we make you feel a part of our community?’” Cardona said. “Student participation has been growing. They also feel proud that other students are motivated.”

Cardona says over 50% of the student population at Maloney High School identifies as Hispanic.

Carlos Piña, the family school liaison at the Maloney High School, sees “Café y Charla” as a model for other high school's to promote inclusivity and community engagement.
Maricarmen Cajahuaringa
/
Connecticut Public
Carlos Piña, the family school liaison at the Maloney High School, sees “Café y Charla” as a model for other high school's to promote inclusivity and community engagement.

Carlos Piña, the family school liaison at the Maloney High School, hopes that “Café y Charla” won't go unnoticed and that other schools, even if they don't have a significant Hispanic student population, look at the program as a model for promoting inclusivity and community engagement.

“It's extremely important. It's about being inclusive to those families that are here coming from abroad,” Piña said.

Richard Sorenson, the technology education teacher, said the morning English news program was initiated around the time of the school's new building construction in 2023. He said this new Spanish project, launched around the same time, has become a cornerstone of student life at Maloney.

“Having the Spanish news allows the parents at home to kind of see what's going on and what clubs are offered,” said Sorenson.

Spanish-speaking students interested in joining the newscast can register using a form provided by the school.

Richard Sorenson, Maloney's technology education teacher, says the program is a cornerstone of student life at Maloney.
Maricarmen Cajahuaringa
/
Connecticut Public
Richard Sorenson, Maloney's technology education teacher, says the program is a cornerstone of student life at Maloney.

Piña said the Spanish news project serves not only to keep Hispanic families informed but also to cultivate valuable communication skills in students and expand their future career interests.

“It's letting them know that there's another career path for them in broadcasting, whether it's sports, whether it's just community information,” Piña said. “The kids absolutely love it. They really do.”

Faculty members in charge of the project said students and instructors have an unwavering commitment to diverse communities and will embrace them through their passion for media and communications.

"I feel like, in the future, I can keep doing this because it represents me,” Chris, the 9th-grade news anchor, said. “I like to work hard for the community and the school.”

Maricarmen Cajahuaringa is a journalist with extensive experience in Latino communities' politics, social issues, and culture. She founded Boceto Media, a digital Spanish-language newspaper based in Connecticut. Maricarmen holds a Bachelor's in Social Work from Springfield College, and a Master's in Journalism and Media Production from Sacred Heart University. As a reporter for Connecticut Public, she is dedicated to delivering accurate and informative coverage of the Hispanic/Latino population in the region. Maricarmen is an experienced and passionate journalist who strives to bring a voice to the stories of her community.