La Quinta High senior earns the final Desert Dialogue spotlight

In response to a collaborative project by The Desert Sun’s Andy Abeyta and Ani Gasparyan, who documented the stories of six local Holocaust survivors now in their 80s and 90s, last week’s Desert Dialogues prompt encouraged high school students to to think about the importance of first-hand accounts of historical events. Students were asked to consider the impact these stories have on younger generations and how they can honor these experiences to ensure they are remembered and passed on.

Congratulations to Jenitza Perez, a La Quinta High School senior who will graduate on Wednesday. She is the first Blackhawk chosen by our readers for the final spotlight on Desert Dialogues. Initially identified as Student C, Perez recommended age-appropriate books for public schools and libraries and suggested projects or grants for local survivors.

“If these firsthand stories are not heard, history will repeat itself, causing even more injustice and pain to others,” Perez wrote. “We are human beings; somewhere in between we need to come together as humanity and join hands.”

Read more about the student in the spotlight this week below:

Q&A with Jenitza Perez from La Quinta High School

What’s a song you play on repeat?

“Espresso” by Sabrina Carpenter

What’s your favorite place to hang out in the Coachella Valley?

Adams Park in La Quinta.

What’s your favorite bubble tea drink order?

Chocolate milk tea with clear boba.

What are you most proud of?

I am proud of the person I have become.

What is your favorite quote?

“Your fear of looking stupid is holding you back.” — SZA

What’s a book recommendation you have?

“Gift from the Sea” by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

If you had the power of teleportation, where would you go now?

The 1950s of watching a movie at a drive-in theater.

What do you wish people knew about your generation?

We have a big heart and just want to be known.

We would like to express our gratitude to the high school students whose answers we also published last week:

  • Mariangela Bautista, Desert Mirage High School
  • Jenna Seablom, La Quinta High School

In mid-March, through the combined efforts of our three K-12 public school districts – Coachella Valley Unified, Desert Sands Unified and Palm Springs Unified – we launched Desert Dialogues, an initiative designed to elevate the voices of middle school students amplify for publication in The Desert Sun. Since then, we’ve received just over 500 thoughtful student-submitted responses to our weekly questions. Many thanks to the students who entrusted us with their stories and to the teachers who encouraged their participation. Desert Dialogues signs off for this school year.

Jennifer Cortez covers education in the Coachella Valley. Reach her at [email protected].