Inside the last standing formerly segregated “Mexican school” in Southern California, 21 new Chapman students learned about the past of the community they are joining from members of the Orange Barrio Historical Society.

The students who visited the renovated schoolhouse – now owned by the University – were part of the Common Ground track of Chapman’s Emerging Leaders early-orientation program for first-year students offered by the Office of Residence Life and First Year Experience.

The group spent a day and a half on Aug. 19-20 visiting local sites and learning about area history such as Mendez v. Westminster, the landmark federal court decision that ended segregation in Orange County public schools. The students also met Orange Mayor Teresa “Tita” Smith and visited Santa Ana, where they discussed gentrification and other issues.

“It’s focused on educating students about Orange beyond what they might have thought about, the beaches and Disneyland,” said Negeen Lotfi, program coordinator in Chapman’s Office of Student Engagement. “It’s about community relations and civic engagement.”

Area resident Paul Guzman, right, tells Natalie Standridge ’22 and other students about local barrio history. (Photo/Amanda Galemmo ’20)