SAN ANTONIO (August 27, 2021) – Students from CAST Schools will take the stage Friday at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center for the premiere performance of a selection from their stage adaptation of the book Tafolla Toro: Three Years of Fear, written by San Antonio native and Geekdom chairman, Lorenzo Gomez III. Gomez’s book details his traumatic middle school years in one of San Antonio’s most crime-riddled neighborhoods and how he overcame those challenges to his mental health. The special live performance is for all entering ninth-graders at the five CAST Schools and is intended to advance conversations about mental health, self-identity and challenges students face during their early adolescent years. Following the performance, Gomez will lead a question-and-answer session with students to share deeper insights on his experience and perspective to addressing fear and anxiety.
The book blends stories with letters the author wrote to his younger self based on the wisdom of hindsight. CAST students with theater teachers at their side collaborated with Gomez to produce the entire selection, from storyboarding, casting, and choreographing to designing the stage. To extend the conversation, the CAST Network of schools also developed a curriculum based on the Tafolla Toro book for teachers to deepen the student experience by connecting the story to work being done in the classroom. Using the curriculum, students added their own personal letters to their younger selves, offering perspectives teenagers face in 2021.
Over the summer, Gomez collaborated with CAST students and theater teachers to transform the book into a play.
I’m proud to partner with CAST Schools on this inspiring project,” Gomez said. “We are on a mission to take away the stigma around mental health and to inspire this next generation to start these conversations sooner.”
The ongoing pandemic has brought to light new challenges, including the need for safe spaces that focus on mental health and the importance of acknowledging it in a healthy way at an early age. The freshman year at CAST Schools is a year of self-discovery where students are encouraged to discover their confidence, find their space, and engage in teams through project-based learning.
Lorenzo’s story, and his use of letters to himself, encourage students to take ownership of their own story and harness the power of storytelling to heal,” said Jeanne Russell, Executive Director for the CAST Schools Network.
The long-term goal is to take the completed play to a larger community stage, to perform to a broad San Antonio audience, and to make it available to audiences across Texas and the country. CAST is seeking donations to help complete and co-publish the play and obtain a designation for it to be performed in Texas UIL one-act theater competitions. For more information, visit castschools.com/tafolla-toro.
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 Lead, CAST Med, CAST STEM, CAST Teach, CAST Tech and the Advanced Learning Academy. Schools are co-created with local employers and in partnership with area public school districts, including East Central, Northside, San Antonio, and Southwest ISD. For more information, visit https://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 stands up to tell them: Decide today that you are worthy.