New Play Aims to Help Students Create a Path for Mental Health

/ / Press, Student Voice
Tafolla Toro Writing Workshops

Local author Lorenzo Gomez, III works alongside CAST Schools students to turn “Tafolla Toro, Three Years of Fear” into a play

 

SAN ANTONIO (June 2, 2021) – CAST Schools launched a summer writing workshop on Tuesday, June 8, 2021, to transform the book, Tafolla Toro, Three Years of Fear into a play that will be performed in August.  Students and theater teachers collaborated with local author and Geekdom chairman, Lorenzo Gomez III to gain a personal understanding of the writer’s experiences and purpose. This was the first in a series of workshops that will be hosted throughout the summer where students will write, storyboard, practice readings, and rehearse as the play unfolds.

Tafolla Toro: Three Years of Fear, is targeted for young people grappling with issues of fear, anxiety, community violence, and more. The book – set at Tafolla Middle School on San Antonio’s Westside – features a series of stories, with letters to the author’s younger self. These letters offer new perspectives and ideas based on the wisdom of hindsight. For the past three years, CAST Schools and Gomez have partnered to perform an adaptation of the book for all the network’s entering ninth graders.

The performance aims to advance a conversation about mental health and self-identity and challenges students to write a letter to their younger selves. Miguel Salazar, a junior at the Advanced Learning Academy, shared in his letter, “….never be afraid to express yourself. You are strong, and you have meaning in the world, so much more than what people say.”.

The long-term goal of the collaboration is to turn this book into a play that will offer relatable stories to young people in San Antonio, Texas, and beyond. That includes co-publishing the play and seeking a designation for it to be performed in Texas UIL one-act theater competitions.

“I wrote Tafolla in the hopes that it could help anyone who also struggles with fear and anxiety,” said Lorenzo Gomez.  “I can think of no better way to take its lessons directly to an audience of young adults than by the magic of the stage. And I can think of no better partner to bring it to life with than the CAST Network.”

Student actors from CAST Schools will perform an initial version of the play to approximately 500 incoming 2021-2022 9th grade classes from the five CAST Schools at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, just blocks away from Tafolla Middle School, on August 27, in person and through live stream. The plan is to then take the play, co-created by the original author alongside our students, to a larger community stage, to perform to a broad San Antonio audience, and also to make it available to audiences across Texas and the country.

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 About CAST Schools Network:

The Centers for Applied Science & Technology (CAST Schools) is a San Antonio-based nonprofit made up of four career-themed, tuition-free public high schools and one Pre-K through 12 Academy. CAST Schools’ mission is to reinvent schooling in order to maximize options for students while preparing them for college, career, and life. Students select a school based on interest, set personal goals, and design their school experience, informed by industry and other partners. Through experiential learning, CAST Schools’ students tackle real-world projects designed by local employers and civic leaders and work in teams alongside mentors from the field.  CAST Schools target makers and doers who will thrive in a hands-on setting informed by student voice and agency. Open to all Bexar County students, CAST Schools include high schools CAST Tech, CAST STEM CAST Med, CAST Lead, and the Advanced Learning Academy.  Schools are co-created with local employers and in partnership with area public school districts, including San Antonio, Southwest, and East Central ISDs. For more information, visit castschools.com.

About Lorenzo Gomez, III and his book, Tafolla Toro, Three Years of Fear

Lorenzo Gomez III is a native San Antonian and has served as CEO of Geekdom, is co-founder of The 80/20 Foundation, and Tech Bloc. Gomez is also the author of best-selling books. In Tafolla Toro, Lorenzo Gomez aims to dispel the notion that mental health and mental illness are the same. Gomez reaches back in time to share stories of his turbulent, traumatic, and often violent middle school years in one of San Antonio’s most crime-riddled neighborhoods. He opens up to reveal the fear, anxiety, and hopelessness he felt as a teenager and how those forces shaped his life until he began taking steps as an adult to improve his mental health. Alternating between shocking stories from his youth and letters written to his 12-year-old self, Lorenzo shows young people how to retake the battle of their mind by dealing with what is true and dismantling the lies that lead to self-deception. In Lorenzo’s journey, readers will see someone who understands what they feel, knows what they’re going through, and is standing up to tell them: Decide today that you are worthy.