Youth Reporter Attends Prep School in Search of Opportunity

Sep. 4, 2012 / By

Why does Coachella Unincorporated reporter Johnny Flores leave Coachella every morning to attend private high school in the affluent community of Palm Desert? In his words, for “an opportunity to change my life, the lives of others, and to change the community I call home for the better.”

By Johnny Flores, Jr.
Coachella Unincorporated

A year ago, I was feeling anxious, nervous, and scared. But it was more than the usual sadness for another summer coming to an end; I was about to begin my freshman year at a fancy prep school outside my community — not to mention my comfort zone.

My name is Johnny Flores, Jr., and I have lived in the city of Coachella my entire life. The great majority of the population is Hispanic, and many families who live here don’t have access to adequate living conditions, health care, and even healthy food. In the near vicinity are thousands of acres of farmland where many people, including my own grandfather, work every day in order to support their families.

Up until last year, I attended elementary and middle school at Our Lady of Perpetual Help just outside of Coachella, in the city of Indio. Even though OLPH is a Catholic school, things like exotic family vacations or fancy computers never mattered to me and my classmates. Catching the latest episode of our favorite television shows was far more important.

But in eighth grade, my friends and I started talking about high school. I decided I really wanted to go to Xavier College Preparatory in Palm Desert, a private Jesuit school; however, I did not have high hopes up for attending this school. Seeing my parents struggle with tuition at OLPH, attending Xavier did not seem realistic. Yet I filled out my application and anxiously waited every day for a response. I was thrilled when I was accepted and awarded financial aid.

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Coachella Unincorporated

Coachella Unincorporated is a Youth Media Startup in the East Coachella Valley, funded by the Building Healthy Communities Initiative of The California Endowment and operated by New America Media in San Francisco. The purpose of the project is to report on issues in the community that can bring about change. Coachella Unincorporated refers to the region youth journalists cover but also to the unincorporated communities of the Eastern Valley with the idea to “incorporate” the East Valley into the mainstream Coachella Valley mindset.