NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Project Raíces, a grant-funded bilingual outreach and education program administered by faculty members from Stephen F. Austin State University’s James I. Perkins College of Education, will host two back to school bashes and a Lucha Libre Night, all featuring children’s author Xavier Garza, on Aug. 12 in both Lufkin and Nacogdoches.
“Xavier is a firm believer in the benefits of bilingualism and in maintaining one’s first language while also learning English,” said Carrie Wright, Project Raíces director. “His books celebrate the blending of cultures and diversity of traditions. Each of his books is written in both English and Spanish, making them accessible and a great tool for practicing a second language.”
The first back to school bash will be from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Kurth Memorial Library in Lufkin. That same day from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., the second back to school bash will be hosted at the Nacogdoches Public Library.
The two library events will include a reading by Garza as well as a Q&A with the author. To kick off the upcoming school year, school-aged visitors can pick up a supplementary packet of school supplies.
Garza will end his visit with Lucha Libre Night from 6 to 9 p.m. at The Fredonia Brewery, where attendees can meet Garza, engage in lucha libre trivia and listen to live music by Enrique Munguia and the Band, a local musical group. In between musical sets, the brewery will have lucha libre trivia in honor of Garza. Food will be available for purchase through Rebellion Pizza Kitchen, and a food truck will be on the premises. Each trivia winner will receive a free book by Garza.
“One of our primary objectives is to engage our community and support language acquisition and biliteracy for our children and families,” said Darius Tubbs, Project Raíces Coordinator. “We will be providing copies of Xavier’s Lucha Libre series to the Nacogdoches and Lufkin public libraries in addition to the readings in order to increase the availability of bilingual texts for our community.”
Garza is a writer, illustrator and art teacher based out of San Antonio. He has published more than 20 books, mostly aimed at engaging children and young adults. Garza grew up in the small border town of Rio Grande City, and his work primarily focuses on those experiences, such as stories passed down by his family and watching lucha libre, Mexican professional wrestling.
Some of Garza’s works include “Rooster Joe and the Bully / El Gallo Joe y el abusón,” “The Donkey Lady Fights La Llorona and Other Stories / La señora Asno se enfrenta a la Llorona y otros cuentos” and “Maximilian and The Mystery of the Guardian Angel: A Bilingual Lucha Libre Thriller.”
Project Raíces is a program made possible by the grant Reaching All Individuals and Communities to Establish Success in Language Learning. This is a five-year $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to enhance bilingual and multilingual education for school districts in Nacogdoches and Angelina counties.
The grant will additionally fund a series of professional development sessions to prepare as many as 332 educators to teach and support English language learners. Those educators include SFA faculty and education students, as well as East Texas pre-K through 12th grade teachers.
All events are free to the public and family friendly. For more information about Project Raíces and its related events, visit sfasu.edu/project-raices/about, @ProjectRaices on Facebook, or @Project_Raices on Instagram.