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The freshman year at CAST Schools is a year of self-discovery. For three years, we have partnered with Geekdom chairman, Lorenzo Gomez III, to perform an adaptation of his book for all entering ninth graders. Tafolla Toro: Three Years of Fear, is targeted to 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.

The Play

Tafolla Toro Three Years of Fear

Over the summer, Lorenzo Gomez III 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. 

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.

The Book

The Author

The Curriculum

The Premiere

Here’s where we need your help:

We believe this play offers a relatable story to our young people in San Antonio. Our 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. We plan to co-publish the play and seek a designation for it to be performed in Texas UIL one-act theater competitions. Please consider making a donation to support the further development and completion of the play. 

The Cast and Crew

  • Lorenzo Gomez III, Author
  • Ben Beaudoin, Advanced Learning Academy
  • Connor Bustos, Advanced Learning Academy
  • Jeremy Cantu, Advanced Learning Academy
  • Sophia Shelton, Advanced Learning Academy
  • Bella Villarreal, Advanced Learning Academy
  • Diego Villegas, Syracuse University (ALA Class of 2021)
  • Trinity Williams, CAST Tech
  • Christian Young, CAST STEM
  • Christian Young, CAST STEM, Lorenzo and PE Coach
  • Julian Perez, CAST Tech, Lencho, Young Lorenzo
  • Bella Villarreal, Advanced Learning Academy, Mama Gomez and Police Officer
  • Finn Ralph, CAST Tech, Therapist and PE Kid
  • Aliana Chavez, Advanced Learning Academy, Mari and Toro 3
  • Araceli Sanchez, Advanced Learning Academy, Denise, Toro 2 and Police
  • Connor Bustos, Advanced Learning Academy, Pops and Office Almandarez
  • Alex Garrido, Advanced Learning Academy, Raymond, Student 2 and Mark
  • Eleanor Bird, Advanced Learning Academy, Toro, Hector, Jose, Daniel, and Big Kid
  • Jeremy Cantu, Advanced Learning Academy, Danny, Jose, and Big Kid
  • Director Jose DeHoyos, CAST STEM
  • Technical Director Amy Stengel, Advanced Learning Academy
  • Assistant Directors Nico Champion, Advanced Learning Academy
  • JoJanie Moreno, Advanced Learning Academy
  • Stage Manager: Trinity Williams, CAST Tech
  • Music Zero Views from the premier 2020 album: 
    • Bad Gateway, with Dan Nicosia (engineer, vocalist)
    • Lachlan Hyatt (producer, vocalist)
    • Kenny Goubran (vocalist)
    • Diego Monzon (producer, engineer, vocalist)
    • Viren Fernandes (producer, engineer, vocalist)
  • Costume Designer: Diego Gonzales, Advanced Learning Academy
  • Costume Coordinator: Sophia Shelton, Advanced Learning Academy
  • Sound Designers & Operators: Luca McManus and Dylan Reyes, Advanced Learning Academy
  • Lighting Designer and Operator: Noah Borreol and Mano Villegas, Advanced Learning Academy
  • Scenic Artists Advanced Learning Academy and CAST Tech:
    • Eleanor Bird
    • Hattie Landry
    • Tim Huff
    • Emily Perez,
    • Sophia Shelton
  • Master Prop Designer: Matilde Lee, Advanced Learning Academy
  • Running Crew Advanced Learning Academy and CAST Tech:
    • Carlos Briseno
    • Joe De La Fuente
    • Hattie Landry,
    • Callum Ralph
    • Max Shelton
  • House Manager: Laura Richards, Advanced Learning Academy Parent

Special Thanks To:

  • Superintendent Roland Toscano, East Central ISD
  • Superintendent Brian Woods, Northside ISD
  • Superintendent Pedro Martinez, San Antonio ISD
  • Superintendent Lloyd Verstuyft, Southwest ISD
  • Martha Martinez-Flores, Artist and Designer
  • Mark Menjivar, CAST Schools Artist-in-Residence
  • RockEm Productions Filming
  • Diego Villegas, Historian, ALA Graduate 2021
  • Laura Sisson, Advanced Learning Academy & CAST Tech Librarian
  • Laura Richards, Costume Coordination
  • Technical Theatre and Design  II, III, IV Advanced Learning Academy and. CAST Tech Classes
  • Art I, II CAST STEM Classes
  • Kimberly Garza, CAST Med Art Teacher 
  • Jorge Piña, The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center
  • Kathy Bieser, Principal Advanced Learning Academy
  • Wendy Fuller, Principal CAST Lead
  • Eddie Muzquiz Rodriguez, Principal CAST Med
  • Ravae Schaefer, Principal CAST STEM
  • Ericka Olivarez, Principal CAST Teach
  • Melissa Alcala, Principal CAST Tech
  • CAST Network 9th Grade Teaching Teams
  • Advanced Learning Academy, CAST STEM, and CAST Tech Parent Community
  • Cameo Theatre Staff and Interns
  • Zero Views Band
  • Lisa Murphy, Advanced Learning Academy Teacher
  • Yvette and Andy Benavides S.M.A.R.T. SA

Scenes from the Performance

More about Tafolla Toro: Three Years of Fear

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  CAST students collaborated with local author Lorenzo Gomez III for a stage adaptation of Tafolla Toro: Three Years of Fear. Click here to see the full story:   Source:

The Show Must Go On: Persisting in a Pandemic Raise Your Hand Texas

Raise Your Hand Texas recently featured the Advanced Learning Academy and CAST Tech Theatre production company. Throughout the pandemic, theater teachers, Ms. Amy Stengel and  Mr. Nico Champion, and their

Students from CAST schools bring mental health, self-identity and adolescent challenges to forefront

Click here to see the full story: Source: KSAT.COM By: Alicia Barrera, Multimedia Journalist Gaby Anez, News Producer  

The Book

Lorenzo Gomez wants to dispel that notion for good. In his new book, Tafolla Toro, he 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.

“The great lie of our society is that mental health and mental illness are the same.”

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 minds 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.

Tafolla Toro Three Years of Fear Book
Lorenzo Gomez III

The Author

Lorenzo Gomez III has served as CEO of Geekdom, Texas’ largest coworking space, and is cofounder of The 80/20 Foundation, a philanthropic organization dedicated to investing in the future of San Antonio.

Despite having little college experience, he used valuable lessons from his entry-level jobs to catapult himself into high-impact positions. At the managed-cloud provider, Rackspace, he worked closely with co-founder Graham Weston.

Prior to 2017, Lorenzo was tasked with converting a dying downtown sector into an attractive tech district. He recruited startups, evaluated competitive coworking spaces, convinced civic and government leaders to support tech companies considering relocation and asked academic institutions to supply talent. The goal of this work was to establish and develop a tech district in the heart of San Antonio, one that did not exist yet.

Lorenzo’s driving passion is his love for his city, San Antonio, Texas. It is truly a city on the rise. His goal is to enable others to see the vision and help advance the seventh largest city in the United States into a world-class center for startups, especially in the tech industry.

Toward that end, Lorenzo collaborates with a network of professionals to fortify growth of the tech district in downtown San Antonio. He is a cofounder of Techbloc and serves as board member, advisor, and mentor for a variety of local and national tech and entrepreneurial endeavors.

The Premiere

Student actors from CAST Schools will perform initial selections of the play at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, just blocks away from Tafolla Middle School, on August 26 and 27. 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.

Tafolla Toro Bridge

The Centers for Applied Science and Technology (CAST) Network is a tax-exempt organization as described in Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Service code. All donated proceeds will go towards the further development and completion of the play.

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