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HISPANIC EVENT Promoting awareness



Published: Thu, May 6, 2004 @ 12:00 a.m.



Various youngsters participated in a 'Parade of Flags.'

By JoANNE VIVIANO

VINDICATOR EDUCATION WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- As Atty. Duard Dennis Bradshaw looked out over the East Middle School auditorium, a diverse blend of pupils looked back at him.

"One or two or three or 10 or 20 of you will all be up here years from now," he said.

"We'll have up here on this a stage 20 or 25 lawyers, maybe among them a common pleas court judge or a Supreme Court justice.

"We haven't had a Hispanic Supreme Court Justice for the United States, but we will ... if you become what you want to be, not what your community wants you to be."

Bradshaw, of the Roderick Linton law firm in Akron, is a native of Panama. He was the guest speaker at the "Hispanics Taking a Role in the Judicial System" Hispanic Awareness Week program at East Middle School on Wednesday.

Having an effect

From what one pupil said, his prediction might become reality.

"I think he's an inspiration to today's kids, 'cause when I grow up I want to be a lawyer," said sixth-grader Nikitas Smaragdas.

Bradshaw told the pupils that there are no Hispanics on President Bush's Cabinet but that Alberto Gonzales, who is of Hispanic heritage, is counsel to Bush. "That means you can do the same. ... You can always achieve what you want to achieve so long as you want it."

Besides the speaker, the event featured the Puerto Rican National Anthem and other Hispanic songs, a presentation by the East Middle School Intensive English pupils and songs performed by toddlers in the bilingual preschool at East Middle School.

The event also included a visit by several Hispanic graduates of East High School who work in the law enforcement and judicial systems.

Importance of event

Nikitas, who has family roots in Colombia, said the event was important because it "teaches the other kids about Hispanic students."

He participated in the "Parade of Flags" portion of the program.

Presenting the Colombian flag, he was one of several boys who carried flags representing various Hispanic countries. The boys were joined by girls who wore costumes representative of the countries.

Leana Frazier, a fifth-grader, wore the white-and-blue dress of Panama, with gold combs and pearls in her hair.

"I think it's important to know what different cultures can be and what they can do," she said.

Fifth-grader Erica Ortiz wore a Guatemalan outfit, and said it's important to represent Puerto Ricans at her school -- "so people can know that we're the same as other people."

viviano@vindy.com




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