Hispanic Heritage Month Celebrated Around Schools

Hispanic Heritage Month Celebrated Around Schools
Posted on 10/20/2021

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. Montclair Public Schools celebrated with a variety of lessons and activities focusing on present-day and historical figures and cultural practices.

The following highlights are just a sampling of what took place around our schools. 

Students presented about the history and the reasons for the celebration. Teachers worked with the Art teacher to help students create "papel picado,” which literally means punched or perforated paper. This traditional cut paper folk art is found throughout Mexico and the former colonies of Spain as well as in the folk traditions of many other countries. Students also created dioramas for the Day of the Dead. Students were treated to a PTA-sponsored Mariachi band performance to close the celebrations. 

Hispanic Heritage display  Hispanic Heritage display

Hispanic Heritage display  Hispanic Heritage display
One of the school’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations included a small, outdoor event for our Kindergarten and 1st grade students called the Festival of Flags. Students studied, created and displayed flags from a variety of countries (for example, Paraguay, Colombia, Ecuador, Perú). Parent volunteers shared their culture and traditions through books, music, dance and more!

One activity allowed students the opportunity to make their own clothing inspired by the clothing from Ecuador. Actors from the Frontera Project at Luna Stage invited students and families to participate in bilingual theater games and stories telling and Spanish music. Students also experienced a presentation of Brazilian art and the Edgemont community was invited to an outdoor evening screening of the movie Coco.

Hispanic Heritage display  Hispanic Heritage performance  Hispanic Heritage performance

Hispanic Heritage performance  World Language teachers  Hispanic heritage dancers

On Friday, Oct. 15, students during the period 2 and 3 were all invited to attend this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month cultural event hosted by Ms. Martinez. Ms. Martinez’s students presented the origins and facts of the history and culture of U.S. Latinx and Hispanic communities. Students recited an authentic poem about Latin America in Spanish. Mrs. Reyes’ students learned Spanish songs and presented their Spanish cultural project and posters. Professional Salsa Dancers were invited to perform Salsa Dancers and all World Languages and students and staff joined. Ms. Martinez commented that “As a Spanish teacher it is my honor and duty to educate my students on the beauty of my culture.”

students learn dance on lawn  learning dancing on lawn
The Hillside Social Justice Committee and Spanish teacher Ms. Charlene Scott presented a Hispanic Heritage Fiesta (Fiesta Para la Herencia Hispana) cultural event with Latin Dance Lessons and Hispanic Cultural Trivia on the Hillside Elementary School Field. A professional Latin Ballroom instructor was on hand to teach a group of 200 students, families, and teachers of Latin dance moves on the Hillside lawn and there were empanadas for sale provided by a local restaurant.

Montclair High School
Spanish teachers presented a PowerPoint presentation with information about the most famous Spanish people, recognizing their achievements and contributions to the United States. Students researched information about César Chávez, The Pope, Dolores Huerta and Isabel Allende.

students in class   students give presentation to class

student dressed as famous female astronaut   Hispanic heritage month class
Montclair High School’s Civics and Government Institute (CGI) celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month on October 14 with an interactive gallery walk where all students took turns as teachers and learners. All eight committees of CGI created presentations honoring members of the Latinx community or exploring current issues through the lens of Hispanic Heritage. Students showcased their committee's work and acted as the audience for the other committees. Some departments tackled representation by highlighting important members of the Latinx community. The Media Committee aired an original short film on Latinx members of the media that they admire, including Ana Navarro, Maria Hinojosa, Tessa Thompson, and George Lopez, while the Internal Affairs Committee created a gallery of posters for every member of the congressional Latino Caucus. The Arts Committee exposed students to queer Latinx visual artists Julio Salgado, Mundo Meza, Marco Saucedo, Armando Sebastián, Patssi Valdez, Gronk (Glugio Nicandro), and Lalo Alcaraz. The Committee on Global Action created a Wax Museum to highlight X Gonzalez, Jose Andres, Joan Baez, and Ellen Ochoa. 

students give class presentation

Some committees were more issue-oriented. Current Affairs focused on the agricultural, economic, social, and political advantages that Latinx and Hispanic Americans brought to each region of the US, and the Law and Justice committee explored how the criminal justice system disproportionately targets the Latinx community, then posed solutions and actions. Likewise, the Committee on the Environment looked at how climate change and poor environmental policies affect Spanish speaking communities around the world. 

The State and Local committee turned their research about state-wide and local vaccination rates into action. They spent Saturdays at vaccination sites handing out information in English and Spanish to dispel myths and misconceptions about the COVID vaccines, emphasizing that the state of New Jersey does not require documentation in order to receive a vaccine dose. 

Students got a glimpse of culture, language and geography. Ms. Fuentes showed Independence Days for Spanish speaking countries. Ms. Fuentes used it to teach students Spanish months, numbers, colors, how to say/write Spanish dates and introduce various countries. Students used a map to color each country after they discussed them. 
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