Senior Wins Fairfax Peace Award


Courtesy of Student Peace Awards of Fairfax

Lucia Patino Iporre at the Peace Awards ceremony.

At a school where 34% of students in 2022 were in the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program, these students are underrepresented in school activities. One student is trying to change that.

Lucia Patino Iporre (12) was recently honored as one of 27 winners of the 2023 Student Peace Awards of Fairfax County for her work with the ESOL program.

According to the Student Peace Awards website, the award honors high school students who make a positive contribution to their community through “promoting mutual understanding and respect for all people.”

Representative Gerry Connolly introduced a Resolution in the U.S House of Representatives listing all the recipients and recognizing their efforts as “building blocks of a more peaceful and tolerant world.”

Patino Iporre grew up in Bolivia and immigrated to the United States in 2021, where she started school at FC.

“Having to adapt to the differences in culture and expectations took time. You feel like an outsider and under pressure to change your lifestyle and perspectives,” said Patino Iporre. “Not being able to communicate your thoughts as well as you used to in your native language is frustrating.”

According to a press release from the Student Peace Awards committee, Patino Iporre has been working hard to help ESOL students who feel left out, due to the language barrier, participate. Notably she has been trying to make clubs and sports more accessible by translating announcements into Spanish. She even helped a friend try-out for and make the soccer team.

To help more students participate in school activities she translated important documents into Spanish and volunteered to represent FC as a Student Equity Ambassador. As a Student Equity Ambassador she met monthly with administrators across the county to discuss the problems that ESOL students faced.

“Not everyone is going to want to participate [in school activities], but I met a lot of people that don’t participate because they don’t understand what’s going on,” said Patino Iporre. “If the school makes a bigger effort of trying to include them, they would participate a little bit more.”

Patino-Iporre is also the President of the Spanish Club and the Vice President of the Spanish Honor Society where she started a program for ESOL students to get English and Math tutoring.

“At the beginning of the year, I had about 3-4 ESOL students in my 4th period class, and they all enjoyed using the ESOL Tutors. They all saw improvements with their grades, and enjoyed making new friends outside the ESOL classes that they were in,” said Economics and Personal Finance teacher Christopher Shores. “I love seeing students grow both academically and socially, and the ESOL tutoring program helped bring our community closer together.”

Patino Iporre is going to attend the University of Virginia next year and is going to major in Economics.

“I think that thanks to the translations and the advocacy I did at the school and the county, our administration is more aware of the ESOL community’s struggles and they are more willing to make changes to include them,” said Patino Iporre. “While I know there are a lot of things that need to be done, I believe I contributed to the start of a change that will progress in the years ahead.”