Chicano College Bowl 2023

Yesenia Ruiz, Staff Writer

On Saturday, April 29th, the members of Warren’s Latinx Cultural Organization, Avanza, attended the annual Chicano College Bowl event at Highland Park High School. 

JV cheering on Varsity!

Chicano College Bowl was created by Highland Park High School 20 years ago. It is a scholastic bowl competition about Chicano History- specifically catered around a PBS series entitled “Latino Americans”. Per the official website of Chicano College Bowl, or CCB, it was created to “to celebrate and recognize our role as keepers of our common history, to recognize and develop our role as activists in our common future.” CCB started as an in-school activity in Highland Park and has since developed to include several other surrounding schools, including Warren. It also now includes a keynote speaker with a focus on leaders in the Chicano Rights Movement, a symposium experience, a scholarship test, and biannual Pachangas. Warren had the privilege of hosting the Pachanga in 2022, where they got to meet and connect with the other schools they would be seeing at CCB 2023! Chicano College Bowl is a fantastic experience for the students involved. They get to learn about Latino History they are not taught during the school hours, which strengthens their cultural identity and leadership skills within their communities. They get to meet people they would never have met otherwise, and bond over their shared experiences and learn from each other’s stories. They get to feel an amazing sense of community and pride for their culture. 

Avanza with Richard Soto

Chicano College Bowl had the huge honor of having the keynote speaker this year being Richard Soto. Richard Soto opened the Chicano Research Center in Stockton, California where he holds over 20,000 resources on the Latino experience. He has a wide variety of books and media, really celebrating the diversity of the Latino community. Mr. Soto is a Vietnam War Veteran and a retired educator. The students were extremely honored to hear his impactful story. His speech was at times light, full of jokes and laughter, but also told a very inspiring tale of Mexican resilience in the face of adversaries. He shared photos and corridos (Mexican ballads), and encouraged all of them to continue reading and researching. The students got to personally interact with Mr. Soto throughout the night and were touched by his personal message to them. Mr. Soto remarked that he was “passing the torch” to them, and it was their duty to keep learning and advocating, and follow the footsteps he had laid in his full 80 years of life. He told students that participating in Chicano College Bowl was an important step in the path that he had tread, and to continue on it.

Varsity competing on stage

Leading up to the competition, competitors studied two videos from the PBS documentary series “Latino Americans”. The videos were entitled “Foreigners in Their Own Land” and “Empire of Dreams”. The videos covered about a 100 year time period in Latino history, starting in the early 1800’s and concluding in the 1930’s Great Depression. They got to learn more about the Mexican War of Independence, The Mexican American War, and the Spanish American War. They also got to learn about the early missions of New Mexico, Texas, and California as well as about the lives of key figures such as Mariano Vallejo and Juan Seguin. Additionally, the videos covered the United States acquisition of Puerto Rico and the Cuban Revolution. Students vigorously prepared hundreds of flashcards covering important dates, places, numbers, signs, and people that the video covered and gave their all in the preparation. 

On the day of the competition, competitors were eager to show off their knowledge. First they met the other teams and completed a series of ice breakers. The teams all bonded as one. Then,up to 8 participants from each school were sent to complete the Scholarship Test. The Scholarship Test was a multiple choice exam based on the PBS Videos. The top two highest scorers would receive a scholarship later that night. 

JV with their new trophy

Finally, after weeks of anticipation the competition would begin. Avanza was split into two teams: Junior Varsity and Varisty. Both teams would go head to head with fierce competitors for that coveted first place trophy! The students had been preparing for weeks for the event. There was many long nights cramming dates, rewatching videos, and practicing buzzing skills that all led up to one night. After such a long time of preparation and anticipation… 

Warren secures first place for both Junior Varsity and Varsity teams! 

Varsity proudly displaying their first place win

Avanza erupts in excitement as both teams embrace each other after the competition is over. All of their hard work paid off!

Scholarship winners Rafael Alvarez (middle), Mia Gutierrez (right) and their proud advisor Senora Rangel!

Congratulations to all who competed in the Chicano College Bowl and another huge congratulations to Avanza’s very own Rafael Alvarez and Mia Gutierez who also scored in the top two of the Scholarship Test and took home a scholarship!

To finish the night, the students enjoyed delicious food, performances of Latino dance groups, and then they danced the night away to celebrate. 

It certainly was a successful night at CCB 2023 and Avanza can’t wait to come back again next year!