ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Hispanic and Latino students at Albemarle High School are voicing their concerns over diversity and teacher’s expectations for their work.

A group of Hispanic students wants better representation and diversity on the Student Council. The school just elected its first Latin-American student to it – and they say it is a step in the right direction.

Some of the students feel their teachers underestimate their abilities. They say it can be difficult for those placed in the English as a Second or Other Language Program to move into advanced courses once their English further develops.

“Sometimes the faculty does not feel the kids are capable or they have the ability to move forward in their education,” said AHS senior Sofhia Pineda. “Just moving those steps into improving their knowledge and removing from those lower classes.”

Newly elected sophomore class officer Yatzil Romero Rodriguez wants to make change and make sure students are heard.

“I do think that I am giving them a chance to give their ideas,” Rodriguez said. “Some new kids in this school don’t speak English and they probably have amazing ideas to give out for the school but they just don’t feel comfortable going up to someone.”

Yatzil will report students’ concerns to council representatives from each grade level as well as teachers and the school’s administration.

Some teachers at the school recognize it can be difficult to see a student’s gifts through a language barrier.

“I think that it can be hard for teachers to sometimes see beyond the language because if they don’t have the native language when the students come in early on and they’re still developing their English, it can be difficult to identify what the gifts are that that child brings,” said ESOL Department Chair Russell Carlock.

School staff says it is working on creating more discussions around the topic to improve the teacher-student relationship.