* I have been reading and hearing much lately about all the reasons why high schools should not be allowed to have MEChA clubs on campus ("School to Continue Restrictions on Clubs," April 18). There seems to be a pervading feeling or fear that by having clubs of this kind our schools are creating an atmosphere for potential racism and discrimination. This can happen, but it doesn't need to.
Savanna High School in Anaheim has had a successful MEChA club on its campus for five years. Success didn't come easy, and in the beginning the attitude was that the adviser was merely organizing a group of Mexicans who would rise up and cause all sorts of problems. What possible good could come of it was the general feeling on campus.
Just what does this club do for the benefit of its campus community? It provides money to needy students who cannot afford to take the Advanced Placement exams. It provides anti-gang and anti-drug speakers to students of all ethnic backgrounds. It provides self-esteem programs. The MEChA club takes students to a local college every year to make them aware that college can be an option for them.
Students in the past have attended the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, the Afro-American Museum in Los Angeles, and the Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance. The students have collected canned foods for the needy on the holidays. MEChA also sponsors a yearly art contest that is open to all students on campus. The prize money amounts to $275, and the theme is always multicultural-based and stresses positive relations in our changing society. The annual Cinco de Mayo week teaches our student leaders organization and work ethics. The Savanna MEChA club earns all of its own money through the hard work of the students. And the students? They are the typical example of all people. Some are leaders; some are followers. Some are radical; most are not. They are proud of their heritage, and members include not just Mexicans, but students whose backgrounds stem from other Latino countries. They are young people like all young people. Give them direction, expose them to positive role models, teach them to make the right choices, and they can and will be productive members of our society.
Teacher and MEChA club adviser
Savanna High School