Schools Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month

Schools Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month
Posted on 10/08/2019
Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402.

The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September18, respectively. In addition, Columbus Day or Día de la Raza “Day of the Race,” which is October 12, falls within this 30-day period.

Many Hispanic Americans trace their roots to the cultures of the indigenous peoples of the Americas – including the Arawaks (Puerto Rico), the Aztecs (Mexico), the Incas (South America), the Maya (Central America), and the Tainos (in Cuba, Puerto Rico and other places).

hispanic heritage artwork

Some trace their roots to the Spanish explorers – who in the 1400s set out to find an easier and less costly way to trade with the Indies. Other Latinos trace their roots to the Africans who were brought to the New World and enslaved. 

For purposes of the U.S. Census, Hispanic Americans today are identified according to the parts of the world that they or their ancestors came from, including Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Spain, or the nations of Central or South America.

In addition to teaching about present-day and historical figures, Hispanic Heritage Month also serves as an opportunity for educators to introduce their students to new cultural practices, or to honor those that students may already practice. Viewed through the lens of equity, it is vital to teach our students about the contributions of Hispanic Americans not only from an educational perspective, but from an economic one as well. People of Hispanic descent will represent one in three American workers in just a few decades.

The following highlights only some of the many ways the Montclair Public Schools is celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month through its World Language Department:

Edgemont Elementary School
Teacher Nataly Romero
For the celebration period, during their Spanish classes, all students at Edgemont will be learning about the importance of this celebration as they learn about influential Hispanic/Latino individuals that have made meaningful contributions to society. Additionally, Ms. Romero, our new Spanish teacher, will be developing a video project that involves the participation of the Hispanic/Latino students at Edgemont. The participating students will be asked to fill out a questionnaire along with their parents. Although the answers to those questions are key to the success of the project, parents are not  obligated to respond to questions they do not consider necessary. Once parents have returned the questionnaires, Ms. Romero and the participating students will prepare their own story scripts. Next, the students will be recorded through individual or family sessions (in the case of siblings and cousins). Lastly, Ms. Romero will edit the video clips and transform them into a short film that later will be shown to all members of the Edgemont school community during an assembly. The video project goals are to: Emphasize Hispanic Heritage awareness; Highlight the Hispanic/Latino culture at Edgemont; Know and understand at a deeper level the Hispanic/Latino students at Edgemont; Empower Hispanic/Latino students at Edgemont by giving them a fun opportunity to share about their family backgrounds; Integrate the Spanish and English languages as well as the Hispanic/Latino and American culture.

Hillside Elementary School
In order to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, we want to create a Hall of Fame by our classroom. We want to honor people from our community and neighboring communities rather than the rich and famous from the celebrity world: Parents, grandparents, babysitters, cleaning crews, dentists, doctors, teachers, therapists, mechanics, technicians, lawyers, drivers, cooks, chefs, waiters and waitresses, writers, store owners, artists, musicians...the list is endless.

Each student will make a miniposter (letter size paper) highlighting the following:
Who is hispanic? A person who 1) Speaks Spanish perfectly; 2) His/her/their family is from a Spanish speaking country; 3) Lives in the United States; 4) Contributes to the community and the society. Information on the poster will include: Person's name; Country of origin of the person's family; Where the person lives in the United States; How the person contributes to the community: profession, job, activity.

Watchung Elementary School
Teacher Christina Fuentes
Kindergarten: (For the colors unit) Colors of Mexico; Frida Kahlo 
First Grade and Second Grade: Adopt a City. We adopted San Jose, Costa Rica. Each time we meet, we check the weather, and discuss places of interest that I project on the board.
Third Grade: (Calendar theme) Independence days for various Hispanic countries. How do they celebrate? We will explore the dates and celebrations for each country.
Fourth Grade (Sports theme): Hispanic Olympians
Fifth Grade (Technology infusion): Each student is given an individual of Hispanic heritage that they will research and answer questions given. We are creating a banner of the reports.    

Glenfield Middle School
Teacher Elizabeth Reyes
I will be teaching about Carmen Lomas Garza. She is a Chicana artist and an author. She has a bilingual children's book, In my Family/En mi familia. We are going to read one of the stories in Spanish and look through her artistic works. The students will be doing a project where they will explain one of her works and talk about a family picture showing a family tradition/cultural activity.
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