TAMPA, Fla. — The Hillsborough County public school district is hoping to empower its Latino students to take on leadership roles.

What You Need To Know

  • Latinos in Action is a class and club that was established at Marshall Middle Magnet this school year

  • The class aims to empower and teach leadership skills to eighth-graders

  • Ciara Garcia is one student who says the class has taught her valuable skills she will use when she moves on to high school

They're doing so by implementing courses like Latinos in Action.

It's not every day Ciara Garcia can get her hands dirty to clean up her community. It’s a way for her to demonstrate what she’s passionate about.

“You should clean up when you see trash or help someone when you’re in need," Garcia said.

It's a lesson she’s learned thanks to the new course at Marshall Middle Magnet School that’s aimed at empowering Latinos to take on leadership roles and help them to tap into their culture.

“It really helped me with just opening up and just experience talking to other kids. Like, I used to be so shy with other kids and this really opened up my confidence," she said.

A confidence that she says she’ll carry long after she leaves middle school.

“It will help me with speaking in front of other kids like presentations, like when we say our quotes, we have to say them in front of the whole class and so it will me be louder when I speak.”

In just a short time, Mary Davis, the teacher for Latinos in Action, says the class has helped students be more vocal and active in and around the community.

“It’s like a whole new world that opens up for them that they have something to offer," Davis said.

Davis says the course stands on four pillars: personal assets, excellence in education, leadership and something the students love doing often is service.

“One service we did was at Lincoln, tutoring the kids, they wanted to let the community know that we are here, we’re at Marshall, we care about our community,” said Davis.

Garcia added, “It’s nice that we’re helping out in the community because most people don’t do that, and seeing all this trash means that not many people care about the earth, and that’s why we’re doing this.”

Latinos in Actions not only has taught her what she can do to help, but how she can spread the word on how to make a change.

“It feels really good because not many Latinos are out here working and helping out the community, so Latinos in Action gives that out," she said.

Ciara says whether it’s reading to elementary school kids or cleaning up, she hopes to continue making a difference.