Amid Secrecy: LAUSD Students Savored Vice President’s Visit
“With my heart pounding in my ears and my hands sweating trying to keep a firm grip on my sticks, I kept telling myself not to look up and to keep looking at my jump-waist hook up,” said 12 year-old Juan Trujillo, a drummer at the International Studies Learning Center. “I knew that if I looked up I would start to shake. I was already nervous and I didn’t want to make it worse."
Juan had a reason to be nervous. He and 24 other classmates were hand-picked by his teacher to play for two of the world’s most politically powerful men- the future president of the People’s Republic of China, Vice President Xi Jinping, and current Vice President of the U.S., Joe Biden.
Juan had agreed to play, but he didn’t know when or for what. He just said, “OK.” Some of his classmates said “No,” because they got nervous.
Standing outside in the quad amongst his classmates, he had to remember how to adjust his jump waist that held up his Chinese drum, his new posture and how far apart his feet needed to be. He had to count in his head the new rhythm, tap, tap, tap- at last he finished the performance. Juan let out a long sigh of relief.
Anxious is another way to describe Juan’s mood when he was told who he would be playing for. Adding to his worry, in three days he had to learn a new beat, footwork, and how to play new rhythms on a Chinese drum! Since the beginning of the year, he’s been accustomed to playing on an African drum.
After the performance, he felt relieved. The vice presidents shook their hands and said “Hello,” to the drumline.
Juan learned a great deal from the visit. He felt, “honored and proud.” “Not too many people get to meet the vice presidents,” added Juan.
Senior Valerie Ruby performed a martial arts dance-Polynesian Lima lama. Donned in orange and swaying to the beat, Valerie relished every moment.
“I was a little nervous, but I was mostly excited.” I felt privileged and honored. “It was a blessing from God,” she said. ” “Vice-President Biden was pleased with my performance. He smiled and complimented me.” A martial arts dancer since she was 11 years-old, Valerie only had one day to rehearse. “To me, this dance was a reward for my achievement in school.”
Students performing on Chinese Drums for the future president of the People’s Republic of China, Vice President Xi Jinping, and current Vice President of the U.S., Joe Biden at International Studies Learning Center.
Other students were also reeling from the presidential visit. Stephanie proclaimed she was “shocked to meet someone so important.” Alexis added, “I was shocked too, that of all the schools, they came out to this school.”
Jose Becerra, a photographer on the yearbook staff, shared his experience about keeping the visit a secret and confidential. He could only tell his parents. He also told them about the FBI clearance, but it was hard not tell his friends. His uncle initially didn’t believe him, either.
Jose was also amazed about the preparation of the “advance” team from the White House. He was in awe of the special agents on campus and the high-level security.
The security was so intense that during the drumline presentation and the dragon dance, teachers were upstairs in their rooms or had to see the dragon performance through the gate.
Editor-in-Chief of the school newspaper, Madelinn Ornelas revealed, “It was a wonderful experience for any 17 year-old except that it was hectic. But it was worth it. “It was real nice being a part of the press junket. It was hectic because I had to write fast and get every word.”
When Madelinn was photographed with Vice President Biden, she shared what he whispered to her, “You Look Lovely.” She really appreciated that because she was “feeling hyper.”
When she told her parents about the upcoming visit her mom was also in disbelief.
As a way of permanently archiving this historic event, the school newspaper “International Post,” is dedicating the latest issue to the visit. For the first and possibly the only time, the issue is in color.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and International Studies Learning Center student Diana Ruiz.
The school was more than ready to host this historical event. It was resplendent in the Asian colors of red, from the Chinese lanterns that hang from many corners of classrooms to the display of flags from around the world that adorn hallways.
Principal Guillermina Jauregui who has been at the school for six years said, “It was an absolute honor and a privilege. I never imagined that our school would be selected by vice presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinpeng. It has been one of my goals to put our school on the map. I always yearned to bring the world here for my students who do not have the resources to travel abroad.”
Jauregui pointed out. “It has definitely been a highlight of my career.”
Click here to view more photos.
Caption: (from left to right) Juan Perez, Bao Chenlu (Lucy), Madelinn Ornelas and Zhang Chu Xuan (Chelsea) from International Studies Learning Center meet U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.
By: Monica Carazo
Posted: March 26, 2012