Libertas Academy at Americas High receives $60k grant for fourth year in row

The Libertas Academy at Americas High School has received the Hatton Sumners Foundation grant for the fourth year in a row totaling $60,000, which the academy uses toward funding instruction and materials.

The Libertas Academy, an advanced academic academy in the Socorro Independent School District that focuses on law, government and public administration, is one of a few high school programs that the Hatton Sumners Foundation currently funds as part of its youth development branch.

“We are truly grateful to the Hatton Sumners Foundation for helping us provide endless opportunities for our students,” said Eduardo Hinojos, Libertas Academy coordinator.

The grant also will continue to help fund the civics camps, where incoming eighth-grade students learn about the constitution, voting, census and more.

Madison Vidales is a junior at Americas High School, the Libertas Academy secretary and a camp counselor. She joined the program to set herself up for a career in law and hopes to leave with a better understanding of the field of law, while being a step ahead once she reaches college.

“With that grant we are able to provide the civics camps for the incoming freshman and make sure they know what is going to be offered in this academy,” Vidales said. “It allows us to create a foundation for the academy and prepare students to enter into high school.”

The civics camps provide academic readiness and build the culture within the program. Students get to interact with the other eighth graders coming in from different high schools and get to know the current Libertas Academy students, who are the camp counselors.

“While I was an eighth grader in civics camp, it was an awesome way for me to get to know people, but at the same time learn about my community and everything that was going on within it,” said Kayla Saucedo, an Americas High School junior and the vice president of law for the Libertas Academy.

Saucedo said the civics camps are an amazing experience because they give students exposure to a variety of different career fields before they go to college. The camps also teach students about democracy and the roles citizens take in government.

“We want to teach students that the government does not begin in Austin or in Washington D.C., rather it begins in their own backyard,” Hinojos said.

This year’s civics camp theme is voting rights, where students will be looking into the 13th, 14th, 15th, and 19th amendments.

“In looking at these amendments we really want students to learn the history and importance of voting,” Hinojos said. “To know that it is not something that should be taken lightly as it is something that can change our country for the better and that it is our civic duty.”

During the civics camps, students participate in several sessions, lectures, and activities, and finish on the last day by showcasing a project they worked on throughout the camp.

A group of representatives from the Hatton Sumners Foundation will attend this year’s civics camps to observe how the Libertas Academy works and its success, as they contemplate funding a new entity.

“It is a real honor for us to be able to be a model for another entity,” Hinojos said.