826LA’s 2018 Young Authors’ Book Project: “Through the Same Halls”

“In ten years, that’s how I want people to remember me. I want them to remember my bravery, my smile, and how strong I am. Especially how strong I am because I’ve struggled through a lot. I want people to understand how hard I try to keep going.”

—Alexa V., excerpt from “Once a Toiler, Always a Toiler”

Through the Same Halls:
Journeys of Elders Born and Raised in South Central and Beyond

By Students of Manual Arts Senior High School
Foreword by Donald Bakeer
Photography by Star Montana and Las Fotos Project

Available for Purchase

Elders hold the weight of years in their memories—as witnesses to injustice and in celebrations of triumph and happiness. As a bridge to the past, elders give birth to new generations. Their journeys can inspire us to continue traditions—or to break them.

In this book, 55 students at Manual Arts High School from Mr. Cris Aviña’s history class have captured cultural, economic, and historical landscapes of the communities they call home in South Central and beyond. The exchange of history is documented through personal narrative, interviews, and photography. In this collection, you will find snapshots of elders who shaped the world that younger generations inherited—and see the faces of the next generation who will shape its future.

Check out photos of the writing process!

 “By writing about the experiences of their elders these students have captured, anecdotally, a history of Mexico, Central America, and, indeed, South Central L.A. that is undervalued and, mostly overlooked. After seeing their writing published these students will never feel disempowered vis a vis the English language, again.”
From the foreword by Donald Bakeer, author and former Manual Arts educator

“We give you a book of history. We carry their history as we put on our chalecos for danza, as we ride through the streets of Los Angeles, and gather around the table for grandma’s best sere. We will start to make it our own history as we pursue our education, grow our curiosity, and try to pass on the lessons they gave us.”
From the Introduction by the Student Editorial Board



“The only time I see her smile or laugh is when she watches this show called El Chavo, or when I tell her I love her.”

—Emily C., excerpt from “Serious” 




“I’m going to take this interview with me in my future, for when things get hard in life and I’ll look back when I need life lessons and motivation to keep going.”

—Nate G., excerpt from “A Big Presence”

“Work is the Panacea”

“I’ll grow up and one day, come back to the place that made me who I am.” —Owen O.

“Once a Toiler, Always a Toiler”

“I want them to remember my bravery, my smile, and how strong I am. Especially how strong I am.” —Alexa V.

“The Unknown of Mary Brown”

“I’ve constantly been pulled over by police officers, I’ve been banged on and shot at by gangbangers, and have been racially profiled in a clothing store.” —Cameron H.

Purchase your copy of Through the Same Halls today!

Young Authors’ Book Project Book Release Party!



“This is definitely something I’m always going to remember. It makes me feel proud. I put my heart into this book, and it means a lot to me.” 

—Anna L., YABP student

“This experience was awesome. They say it’s a different time. Sometimes I question that, because I feel like the things that we went through, they’re going through still. It’s all about wanting to better yourself in life. I just wish them the very best. That’s coming from my heart.”

—Roderick P., a.k.a. “Mr. Manual,” MAHS Class of ’75


“When you’re a teacher, you want to impact lives. You want to make a difference in students…. And I think I’ve been blessed with that opportunity with 826LA, to be able to impact my students through six weeks of their life of them being vulnerable, open, exposing themselves like that at such a young age. You see innocence. You see possibility, potential.

And now to have this finished product that’s going to go on, that they can take with them, that they can now share with their other family members, with their children, grandchildren. It’s a legacy, and I feel so honored to be a part of this. I’m in awe. I’m in awe of it all.” —Mr. Aviña, 2018 YABP educator

“He’s making his dreams come true. I’m very proud of him. He accomplished something, something his family couldn’t accomplish. It runs in the family [Renaud’s grandmother was also writer], and he’s the first to get published!” —Dorothea W., parent of YABP student Renaud M.

“This has given me a perspective on how to open up and how to get people to hear me, and hear what I have to say through writing. I’m excited for everybody to hear about my great grandmother and her story. I’m excited for her to be known.” —Ashley P. 

“I’m grateful because this was the best experience I’ve had in my life. I feel very good because thanks to my grandma, I’m here to tell her history and share it with all the people here. I’m grateful to be an author.”               —Juan P.

“I never thought that me as an individual would be able to publish a book! I feel like now I can speak up. I can express my feelings in writing. I can say what I’ve gone through, through writing.” —Ada F. 


About the Young Authors’ Book Project: Each year, 826LA partners with one Los Angeles public school to create a beautifully bound and designed collection of student writing for the Young Authors’ Book Project. Over the course of six weeks, trained volunteers work one-on-one with students to draft, write, and edit pieces centered around a common theme. Read more about past Young Authors’ Book Project publications here.




Press for Through the Same Halls

L.A. TACO’s “PREVIEW: Across Generations, Writers Gather at Manual Arts High School for 826LA Young Authors Project”


Purchase Through the Same Halls here, or pick up a copy at the Time Travel Mart in May. 

Interested in becoming an In-Schools volunteer? Sign up for a Volunteer Orientation here

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