CCS BOE signs agreement to bring Los Jets mobile exhibit to schools this fall

Posted 7/28/21

PITTSBORO — Across select Chatham County Schools this fall, students will have the opportunity to take a look back at an important piece of local sports history.

With the 20th anniversary of Los …

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CCS BOE signs agreement to bring Los Jets mobile exhibit to schools this fall

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PITTSBORO — Across select Chatham County Schools this fall, students will have the opportunity to take a look back at an important piece of local sports history.

With the 20th anniversary of Los Jets soccer program coinciding with the county’s semiquincentennial, the Chatham 250 committee has plans to honor the famed program.

The CCS Board of Education approved a Memorandum of Agreement at its monthly meeting on July 19, which will allow a mobile exhibit documenting the team’s history to be presented at agreed-upon schools this fall.

According to Paul Cuadros — the head coach of Jordan-Matthews’ men’s soccer team and founder of the program, who has been heavily involved in the planning of the exhibit — it will feature “artifacts that we have, trophies, uniforms, posters, things like that” which represent the last 20 years of Los Jets soccer.

The memorandum — presented by Janice Frazier, CCS’ associate superintendent of human resources, and John McCann, CCS’ public relations coordinator — directly cites the importance of Cuadros’ book about the team, “A Home on the Field,” as part of the reason for the exhibit.

“...the book A Home on the Field: How One Championship Soccer Team Inspires Hope for the Revival of Small Town America by Paul Cuadros is of cultural importance and historical significance to Chatham County,” the memo states, “and … the N.C. History Museum exhibit ‘Los Jets: Playing for the American Dream,’ inspired by Cuadros’ book (‘Exhibit’), offers a valuable opportunity for Chatham County students and residents to learn about the history of their Hispanic/Latinx residents.”

However, the exhibit will consist of much more than a few pieces of memorabilia and a few plaques.

While the exact details are still being ironed out, Chatham 250 plans to make the exhibit as interactive as possible, especially when presented to younger students, according to Hilary Pollan, lead organizer for Chatham 250.

“We still have to sign the contract, but our plan is to offer K through 3rd graders a 15-minute program that’s interactive, using a soccer ball to talk about when you felt like an outsider, when you felt like a champion … which is one of the themes of the book,” Pollan said. “We’re doing a similar program, but for about 30 minutes, with 4th through 8th graders, that’ll get a little more into the history of it … so there will be a little bit of social-emotional learning, but also a little bit about history.”

Chatham 250 is working alongside the Hispanic Liaison’s Orgullo Latinx Pride (OLP) youth program to design a program specific to high school students.

Pollan said that one of Chatham 250’s primary goals is “that every resident has one interaction with us that they feel good about, and this is a great way to bring it to our young folks and make sure they support a piece of their own history.”

In 2016, the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh opened an exhibit, referenced in the memo, entitled “Los Jets: Playing for the American Dream,” featuring memorabilia from the Jets’ 2004 men’s soccer state championship season, which came just three years after the program was established by way of a 2-0 victory over Lejune.

Cuadros, who was also a member of Chatham 250’s Historical Content Committee, suggested the idea of honoring Los Jets’ 20th anniversary by using part of the museum’s exhibit at one of the committee’s first meetings last year.

The museum “was more than happy to share their materials,” Pollan said, and Ernest Dollar, director of the City of Raleigh Museum and co-liaison for the Historical Content Committee, recommended Chatham 250 transform it into a mobile exhibit and take it across the county.

“It makes a lot of sense to do that and it’s a heck of a lot cheaper, which is important to us since we’re trying to be pretty responsible with our funds for Chatham 250,” Pollan said, “but we really decided that the way to do this was to take it to the schools.”

There isn’t yet a timetable for when the contract could be signed between CCS and Chatham 250, or when the exhibit might officially open, but Pollan said her hope is to begin having the exhibit make its rounds during Hispanic Heritage Month, which takes place from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

“It’s a great way to lift up this more recent piece of history, to be able to share it with our young people, it’s just such a strong story of growth and change, which is one of our celebration themes for Chatham 250,” Pollan said. “I think Paul (Cuadros) is such a treasure to have in this county. His ability to tell the stories of people and residents who live here today, it made a lot of sense. I’m just grateful he’s willing to share this.”

Reporter Victor Hensley can be reached at vhensley@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @Frezeal33.

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