Category Archives: Benicia School Board

(Correction) Sheri Leigh: Assassins in Benicia – La Migra No More!

[Note from BenIndy: There was an error in the headline of this post in its first posting – apologies! The headline has been corrected.]

Sheri Leigh
Sheri Leigh, Benicia resident and educator.

By Sheri Leigh, May 10, 2024

I was watching and waiting to see what our high school students would do this spring with all of the efforts being put into educating our community about the dangers of La Migra Game.  I first heard about this game variation while I was at the Diversity Festival on April 20th.  I was speaking with one of our District administrators who had overheard a conversation between students about the new Assassin game – a replacement for La Migra. As I did my research, I found myself admiring the consideration and intelligence of the young people who put it together.  Are there still concerns?  Of course!  But the big ones have been addressed, and overall, I am reassured by the humanity that our young designers clearly exhibit.

With the temperatures warming up and summer moving in, I am relieved and grateful to report that the La Migra game did not materialize this year.  This dangerous, edgy, and racially charged chase game that the young people in this town have been playing for decades did not haunt our town this spring.  Instead, it was replaced with a much more sophisticated and overall safer “seek and deliver” game they call Senior Assassin.  A game with a sinister title, but one without any racist implications!  

I want to open by saying how proud I am of our young people.  They heard our concerns about La Migra; acknowledged the negative impacts; grasped the potential danger; and addressed all of these issues while still creating a game that is both exhilarating and scary.  

The rules of Assassin, as I understand them, are as follows:

  1. Only seniors are eligible to play.  This removes the hazing component of older students harassing the younger ones.  
  2. You must sign up to be a part of this.  Only those who want to be part of this are In.  Not everyone wants to play, and no one is forced into participating.  Plus the organizers know exactly who is playing and who isn’t, so there is accountability.
  3. Each player is both an assassin and a target.  Everyone gets to experience both sides of the chase.  
  4. As an assassin, you are assigned only one target at a time; and as a victim, you only have one person pursuing you at a time.  This eliminates random targeting of anyone who might be considered vulnerable and the possibility of being “ganged up on.”
  5. The weapon used is a squirt gun.  Nothing more dangerous than that. If the assassin misses their target and hits someone else by accident, no harm is done.  
  6. No cars may be used to chase a victim.  Vehicle and public safety are considered and respected.
  7. If you assassinate your target, in other words, manage to squirt them with water, you must prove it with a photo.  Again, there’s accountability!
  8. If you have been “assassinated” (squirted with water), you forfeit your place in the game.  Your successful assassinator then gets reassigned to your target.  This keeps happening until the final two players left are chasing each other.  

I realize there are a lot of missing parts here.  Not being a high school senior anymore, I have limited access to the rules.  My questions are:  Where do the students play?  Are there rules of conduct?  Could their squirt guns be mistaken for real guns, which may endanger the participants in other ways?  Is there a time limit on the game, or is it only until the final assassin stands alone?  Are there any safe zones, such as school or home?  Are there teams, or is it everyone for themselves?

But whatever the answers to these questions are, I am so utterly impressed and in complete support of the effort of our students. Class of 2024, you have turned things around!  Benicia is a much better place because of your determination to shift the paradigm of the La Migra Game while still maintaining a tradition that is important to you.  Going forward, I hope you pass this legacy on to future senior classes.

Although we have good news, Benicia, our work is not done.  We, as a community, need to offer more teen activities that engage our young people in a way that is meaningful to them.  If we can provide the opportunity for our teens to connect and practice using the skills they have and those they are developing, they won’t be tempted to bring back dangerous and racism-laden games such as La Migra.  

Let’s use the example the students have given us and get on with it!


Sheri Leigh: Assassins in Benicia – La Migra No More!

[Note from BenIndy: There was an error in the headline of this post in its first posting – apologies! The headline has been corrected.]

Sheri Leigh
Sheri Leigh, Benicia resident and educator.

By Sheri Leigh, May 10, 2024

I was watching and waiting to see what our high school students would do this spring with all of the efforts being put into educating our community about the dangers of La Migra Game.  I first heard about this game variation while I was at the Diversity Festival on April 20th.  I was speaking with one of our District administrators who had overheard a conversation between students about the new Assassin game – a replacement for La Migra. As I did my research, I found myself admiring the consideration and intelligence of the young people who put it together.  Are there still concerns?  Of course!  But the big ones have been addressed, and overall, I am reassured by the humanity that our young designers clearly exhibit.

With the temperatures warming up and summer moving in, I am relieved and grateful to report that the La Migra game did not materialize this year.  This dangerous, edgy, and racially charged chase game that the young people in this town have been playing for decades did not haunt our town this spring.  Instead, it was replaced with a much more sophisticated and overall safer “seek and deliver” game they call Senior Assassin.  A game with a sinister title, but one without any racist implications!  

I want to open by saying how proud I am of our young people.  They heard our concerns about La Migra; acknowledged the negative impacts; grasped the potential danger; and addressed all of these issues while still creating a game that is both exhilarating and scary.  

The rules of Assassin, as I understand them, are as follows:

  1. Only seniors are eligible to play.  This removes the hazing component of older students harassing the younger ones.  
  2. You must sign up to be a part of this.  Only those who want to be part of this are In.  Not everyone wants to play, and no one is forced into participating.  Plus the organizers know exactly who is playing and who isn’t, so there is accountability.
  3. Each player is both an assassin and a target.  Everyone gets to experience both sides of the chase.  
  4. As an assassin, you are assigned only one target at a time; and as a victim, you only have one person pursuing you at a time.  This eliminates random targeting of anyone who might be considered vulnerable and the possibility of being “ganged up on.”
  5. The weapon used is a squirt gun.  Nothing more dangerous than that. If the assassin misses their target and hits someone else by accident, no harm is done.  
  6. No cars may be used to chase a victim.  Vehicle and public safety are considered and respected.
  7. If you assassinate your target, in other words, manage to squirt them with water, you must prove it with a photo.  Again, there’s accountability!
  8. If you have been “assassinated” (squirted with water), you forfeit your place in the game.  Your successful assassinator then gets reassigned to your target.  This keeps happening until the final two players left are chasing each other.  

I realize there are a lot of missing parts here.  Not being a high school senior anymore, I have limited access to the rules.  My questions are:  Where do the students play?  Are there rules of conduct?  Could their squirt guns be mistaken for real guns, which may endanger the participants in other ways?  Is there a time limit on the game, or is it only until the final assassin stands alone?  Are there any safe zones, such as school or home?  Are there teams, or is it everyone for themselves?

But whatever the answers to these questions are, I am so utterly impressed and in complete support of the effort of our students. Class of 2024, you have turned things around!  Benicia is a much better place because of your determination to shift the paradigm of the La Migra Game while still maintaining a tradition that is important to you.  Going forward, I hope you pass this legacy on to future senior classes.

Although we have good news, Benicia, our work is not done.  We, as a community, need to offer more teen activities that engage our young people in a way that is meaningful to them.  If we can provide the opportunity for our teens to connect and practice using the skills they have and those they are developing, they won’t be tempted to bring back dangerous and racism-laden games such as La Migra.  

Let’s use the example the students have given us and get on with it!


An Alternative to Hate is to Celebrate – Celebrate Fiestas Primavera Spring Fest at Benicia City Park on Saturday, March 23

Sheri Leigh
Sheri Leigh, Benicia resident and educator.

By Sheri Leigh, March 8, 2024

Along with the longer lasting daylight and the blossoming of our beautiful downtown trees comes the anticipation of Spring Break. And during the last few decades, at this time of year some of our students look forward to the tradition of the La Migra chase game – the game that gives the teens something exciting and edgy to do in our small, quiet town.

Each year the game is staged, those who choose to play look forward to the challenge of either getting strategically and successfully across town on foot while being pursued by their older peers who are behind the wheel of the motor vehicle, or, on the other side, finding and apprehending the cunning escapees. If caught, the “runners” are captured and “deported” to some remote area on the outskirts of town.

Sounds like fun, right?

Definitely not for everyone. There are a lot of serious problems associated with this so-called game.

Some Benicia High School students have taken action against the game, posting warnings to discourage peers from participating. | This image is a still from a 2023 NBC Bay Area report.

The premise of the game is racist – flat out. It’s simulating the brutal and terrifying experiences of many immigrants and other marginalized people who have been targeted, beaten, and/or run out of town (or the country) because of the color of their skin, their status as a citizen, their religion, their sexual orientation, or their vulnerability. Historically, Mexican and Central Americans, Blacks, Jews, the Queer community, Native Americans and many other groups of people, have been the victims of hate crime in the United States. And in that same spirit of xenophobia and hate, a few bullies who, under the pretext of playing the game, have chased down and terrorized anyone they felt like harassing, whether or not their target was participating or even knew the game was underway.  Some victims of these students have been severely traumatized and carry that with them for years afterwards.  

And then there’s the public safety aspect. With young people running away from their pursuers into private yards and through traffic, with teens being abducted and abandoned alone in remote areas, and with inexperienced drivers focused on the pursuit, rather than the road, it’s only a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt or even killed. 

The La Migra Game is a blight on Benicia. Several of the students who are playing are well aware of the racist implications and take the opportunity to behave badly. And the really sad part is there are many adult Benicians who simply look the other way or consider the game a tradition and a teen rite of passage. Our collective ambivalence towards the game adds to Benicia’s reputation of being a Sundown Town, unwelcoming or even hostile towards anyone who is not white and/or socioeconomically well situated.

Fiestas Primavera Benicia

 

 

 

 

 

Solano Aids Coalition, under the organization of an experienced cultural event coordinator and the director, Mario Saucedo, is offering a spring time alternative to this game.   For just one example of Mario and SAC’s skill and passion for bringing cultural events to life, see this article about the Dia de los Muertos event in Vallejo last year.

This year, for Benicia, SAC is bringing a vibrant and energetic opportunity to learn about and celebrate the Mexican/Latino and Indigenous cultures through an inclusive and interactive event called Fiestas Primavera Benicia or Spring Celebration.

The event will take place on Saturday, March 23, 2024 in the Benicia City Park by the Gazebo at the top of First Street from 10:30am to 6pm. This event is supported by local and State officials, the Benicia School District, the Benicia Police Department, the Public Library, Benicia Black Lives Matters, the Kyle Hyland Teen Center, local artists and businesses, and a host of others who want to establish an equitable and welcoming community.

As a prelude to the event, you will see some of the supporting First Street businesses have their storefront windows decorated with colorful floral paintings done by local artists and high school students (if you are a First Street business who is interested in signing up to have your window painted, contact Sheri using the details provided on the flyer image below).

On the day of the event there will be an extravaganza of dance, music, and art by professional performing and fine artists and local students. Arts and crafts vendors, food trucks and a lowrider parade around the park will draw in people of all ages. Students will have the opportunity to display their artwork in the art pavilion and speak about their experiences and the need for diversity and inclusion during an open mike session. Doña Benicia will mingle with the crowds to share her wisdom, and clowns or payasos will entertain with their antics and charm.

In the children’s area, Catrina face painting, pinata making, street chalk art, and bounce houses will help the children enjoy and appreciate Mexican/Latino culture. And everyone will have the opportunity to look up and remember their own ancestral journey of immigration to this country, no matter from where or how long ago.

We all need to remember that less than two hundred years ago Benicia was part of Mexico, and before that, it was the land of the Suisunes and Miwoks and other Patwin tribes. We should be honoring the history of our land and its many diverse inhabitants and celebrating our cultural diversity, including the tremendous contributions of the Indigenous peoples and immigrants to the United States and Benicia over the ages.

Please join us in solidarity and celebration at this landmark event, Fiestas Primavera Benicia on March 23 anytime from 10:30 until 6pm.  Stand up against racial bias and hate – celebrate.  

For more information and details, including how to support this event through monetary donations and volunteering, please visit the Solano Aids Coalition Website at solanoaidscoalition.org.


Vice Mayor Terry Scott: Why we should all support the upcoming BUSD school bond Measure C

Mary Farmar Elementary students. | Mary Farmar Elementary Facebook Page.

By Vice Mayor Terry Scott, January 23, 2024

Benicia Vice-Mayor Terry Scott.

My fellow Benicians,

Investing in our schools is an investment in the future of our community. The proposed improvements, spanning infrastructure, classrooms, and technology, are crucial for fostering an environment where students can thrive.

A strong BUSD school system not only provides a high-quality education but also contributes significantly to the overall well-being of our residents.

Improved facilities and advanced technology ensure that students have access to modern resources, preparing them for the challenges of the future job market.

As Benicia residents, we play a pivotal role in shaping the foundation of our community. Supporting this bond measure is an investment in the growth and prosperity of our town.

Passage of the bond measure will not result in higher property taxes.  In fact, because the way the bond is structured, the average Benicia property owner should see a tax reduction of about $30.00.

Let’s come together to empower our schools and, in turn, empower our future generations.

Sincerely,

Terry Scott
Vice Mayor
City of Benicia


Visit the Benicia Unified School District’s Fact Page for Measure C for more information.

There, you’ll find a letter to parents and guardians, an FAQ for the measure, and the BUSD Facilities Master Plan.


Visit BelieveInBenicia.org to learn more about Benicia’s Resiliency Plan, sign up for updates from Benicia City Manager Mario Giuliani, and join the effort to help shape Benicia’s future. While some workshops have already occurred, there is still time to add your voice! Look for the red, bolded text below to see upcoming workshops, and please fill out the community survey (also linked below).

UPCOMING MEETINGS

Community Survey
January 15-26 – Community Survey Link
In Person Workshops
January 18 • 6pm-8pm
City of Benicia Public Library
January 25 • 6pm-8pm
City of Benicia Community Center
Virtual Workshops via Zoom
January 17 • 6pm
January 24 • 6pm – Join the meeting