EPISD principal pens book on Asarco legacy

Dr. Cynthia Ontiveros with her book, “Copper Stain.”

What began as an air-quality grant aimed at improving the lives of students in El Paso has now turned into a published book co-authored by an EPISD principal.  

Dr. Cynthia Ontiveros, the principal at the Young Women’s Academy and Armendariz Middle School, wrote the book “Copper Stain: Asarco’s Legacy in El Paso” along with researcher Elaine Hampton. The book focuses on the stories of the men and women who worked at the now-closed Asarco smelter plant and the impact they had on the city.  

“This is a story of perseverance and grit,” Ontiveros said. “It shows that through hard work, people can have influence on the future of their families and the community where they live.”  

The idea of the book began in 2010 when the District received a grant to look into air-quality issues at several schools near the former Asarco plant.  Ontiveros was part of the team working on the research and, after speaking and receiving information from former Congressman Beto O’Rourke, a publisher was sought to finalize any interest in getting these stories on paper.  

The book honors the legacy of the workers and the sacrifices they made for the community and their loved ones.   

Copper Stain was published by the University of Oklahoma Press and is available for purchases at local book stores and online at stores like Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  

Teachers and students at the Young Women’s Academy and Armendairz Middle already are looking for ways to incorporate the book into their day-to-day lessons.   

“They want to see how they can work the book and the stories in it into the classroom,” Ontiveros said. “Here at the Young Women’s Academy and Armendariz Middle we like to incorporate our community into our lessons. The book can help our students connect to our local history, our local government and create a link that will be valuable for our students.”  

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