Por Vida Academy Charter High School (Por Vida) is an alternative to public school created to meet varying educational and social needs of teens on the verge of dropping out of school. Many of the students who attend Por Vida have seen more than their share of closed doors. By opening its doors, Por Vida encourages and supports a better future for each student, their families and the community. Teachers and staff at Por Vida combine efforts to offer adaptive academics, nonjudgmental mentoring, character building programs, parental involvement, and perseverance–always with a healthy dose of compassion.
Joven Noble (Noble Youth) is an evidenced-based character and responsibility program for young men at Por Vida. The ten-part curriculum is a process developed by Jerry Tello and encompasses Chicano/Latin rites of passage. The program’s specific goal is to “increase the ability of youth to act in a responsible and respectful way in reference to their relationships.”
Each young man who makes his commitment to Joven Noble, walks a different journey. Throughout the 10 lessons, students address specific influences in their lives that may be causing disturbances in their relationships. Prevention of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, relationship and gang violence can be negative influences addressed. In the collective group they experience guidance and nurturing leading to development of character and responsibility to themselves and their families.
The Fire and Water curriculum is a segment of the overall Joven Noble rites of passage program which works well with young people who are experiencing anger/violence (fire). Reggie, a junior at Por Vida, was reluctant at first to join Joven Noble. He was struggling with anger and it was causing a disruption in his school and home life. After joining in his sophomore year, he was surprised at the profound changes in his life.
“This group is like my family,” says Reggie. “I came to understand that if I had any problem, I could come to them for help. Through the lessons and genuine support, I found a way to balance my feelings and become a calmer person.” A yearly out-of-state retreat is included in the curriculum. Both Reggie and Zach felt it was one of the highlights of the program. “It was a learning experience on so many levels,” Reggie explained.
Zach is no stranger to Por Vida. His parents attended high school here, as did some of his cousins. His grandmother Ninfa Chavarria is the Parent Liaison for the school. Zach graduated in 2015, but came back to volunteer with the Joven Noble group because he feels very strongly about the program.
Zach is from a military family and did not have the opportunity to interact with many other Hispanics on the bases where he had been living. When he joined Joven Noble his senior year, he became acquainted with his Hispanic heritage on a more intimate level. “In learning to communicate better with my family and others, I learned acceptance and how not to hold a grudge,” said Zach. “From there I was able to find my way to a better relationship with my dad.” He added, “One of the main teachings is “palabra”–keeping your word. It’s all about holding yourself to a high standard.”
A similar program for girls, Xinachtli, also has proven success stories. You’ll read about them next.
If you are interested in attending or know any young person who might benefit from the curriculum and programs at Por Vida, please call their offices at 210.532.9161