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Meet Senior Class President: Arely Diaz-Loza

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Arely Diaz-Loza as Mia in Lunch Lady Courage. Photo by Kevin Michael Campbell.

We love working with youth, gardens and food and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed connecting with the students at LAHSA.  We’re observing this play transform into a powerful and truly meaningful apart of their lives. Through our weekly interviews with them, we have learned about their motivations and appreciation for theater, their aspirations for college and beyond and how this play has changed how they see food and its place in school and society. We feel blessed to be a part of this amazing Cornerstone production and are excited to see a play reflect so many of the daily experiences of  high school students in Los Angeles.  We hope you enjoy getting to know these amazing students as much as we have.  – Rosa Romero, Lunch Lady Courage scholar

Can you tell me about your character?

Mia is a very passionat e, senior girl who is about to graduate. She is very passionate about the school garden and wishes that the rest of the school would take the garden seriously. Most kids don’t care about the school garden, except her. She wants to get people to recognize that the garden is there and that it’s an important part of school.

Do you relate to your character?

Yes, I relate. Not in a garden sense, because there is a garden here, but I don’t tend it. I am also in the yearbook club. Recently, they cut all of the staff and took away a lot of our resources. They don’t seem to really care about the work we’re doing, even though its hard work. We spend hours after school and have to miss rehearsals for it, so conflicts arise but they said it was a priority for kids to make up their classes than to actually have a yearbook staff. So we kind of feel like we’ve been pushed aside.

So you advocate for the yearbook?

Ye,s I advocate for yearbook a lot. We actually went, the two editors, to speak with the people who are in charge of arranging our classes and we tried to talk to them about rearranging classes, but they kind of pushed us aside and didn’t take what we said into consideration. But we still see the importance  of yearbook and continue to do it.

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Photo by Kevin Michael Campbell

When did you start doing theater?

I started doing theater in 9th grade. I used to be more into sports. I was in soccer my freshman year but my acting teacher told me I should audition for the New Works Festival, which is a series of new plays made, directed and produced by students. I auditioned and got a role. The next year I auditioned for a bigger production and got a role. And then I just kept auditioning. I love it! It’s very interesting, the characters you get to play. I’ve played a Korean person, an African American person, a German murderer, and a woman from Africa. The range of characters you get to portray is really cool. I’ve learned a lot.

What about this play made you want to audition?

I think it’s the fact that Cornerstone is doing community-based theater. I liked that Cornerstone was reaching out to the community and trying to get our voices. That appealed to me.

What are your plans after high school?

After high school, I plan on attending a four year university, not having any loans and graduating with a Journalism degree. I’ve applied to private, UCs and Cal States. I will know by the end of March.

I heard you have a very challenging course load and you’re also senior class president?

Yes, as of now I have 3 AP classes. Last semester I had 4. I like being a student leader and being involved.

What do you think about selling food in school that’s not from the cafeteria?

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Photo by Sandra Luna

I think it’s not right, I guess. But I know that a legal fund raiser won’t make us much money. We’ve tried to, on holidays, sell grams, like Valentine’s day gram, Halloween grams before. It only makes us $40 to $50, but we need thousands. And a torta we can sell for $5 – we earned almost $160 in one lunch, in 30 minutes.

Anything else you would like to share?

I think this show is going to be very awesome!

BUY TICKETS to Lunch Lady Courage.

Interview by Rosa RomeroLunch Lady Courage Scholar.

Rosa Romero is the Scholar in Residence for Cornerstone Theater’s Lunch Lady Courage. Rosa is an active community organizer for healthy food access and green space around Los Angeles. She is the Farm to Preschool Program Manager at the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute (UEPI) at Occidental College in Los Angeles and was recently awarded the 2012 Recognition award from Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Childcare Initiative. She is also a Board member of the South Central Farmers Health and Education Fund and a Certified Master Gardener through the University of California Cooperative Extension and co-founder of Seasonal, Organic Local (SOL) Catering Cooperative. She is a UCLA graduate in the Politics of Urban Education and currently working on her Masters in Early Childhood Education at the University of Hawaii, Manoa.

Click here to see Sandra Luna’s Lunch Lady Courage Photo Gallery.

Sandra Luna is an educator, photographer, blogger, school garden advocate and environmentalist living in Los Angeles. She is an immigrant from Guatemala and has grown up in Pico Union/Mid City. Since 2010 she has been teaching seven classes and manages the Horticulture Program at Crenshaw High School in South Central Los Angeles. She is a board member of the South Central Farmers Health and Education Fund and is a certified Master Gardener through the University of California Cooperative Extension. She is a graduate from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona with a degree in Urban and Regional Planning and is currently completing her Masters in Natural Resources and Environmental Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her blog displays her love of photography, gardens, people, environment, community, art, travel, food and the beauty of life in general.