Hispanic Heritage Spirit week ran from October 3-7. The Hispanic Leadership Club planned inclusive and fun activities throughout the week along with their Spirit Week.
On the first day, students came together to color their countries’ flags near the spiral staircase so the school can see how many Hispanic and Latin descent students there are but also to feel their presence.
Flag day was about representation and like Dayri Almonte, president of the HLC said to make sure that “everyone feels like their flag is represented [since] a lot of countries that are not known get forgotten.” She also cited some ways for Hispanics to celebrate their heritage like “acknowledging and representing your country by sharing stuff through social media [and] sharing with others things that you do, interesting things about your culture and make sure that everyone knows the things that no one really asks about like the small stuff that you do on a daily [basis]. She believed that they had “a good turnout” regarding the number of students who came and participated and she didn’t really expect it.
When asked about the importance of celebrating one’s heritage, Ms. Madai Berrios, a Spanish teacher, and sponsor of both the Hispanic Leadership Club (HLC) and the Blake Latin Elite dance team said, “students [want to] feel like they belong somewhere … and [the HLC] gets to share it with the school community who’s not Hispanic so they could learn more about us and try to break the stereotypes that people have already about us.”
In her opinion, Hispanics “can be proud of where they come from by exposing their culture to their friends and other school community members” to celebrate their heritage.
On Tuesday, we played Loteria. Loteria is a game of chance that is similar to Bingo. Instead of your usual ping pong balls, there were images on playing cards that let us know where to put our chips. We were also able to add to the Ofrenda, which is an altar where we add special items and photos of our loved ones who have passed away. This activity helped build community in our school. Senior, Olvia Alvelar-Nunez said, “It is nice to have people join in on my culture.”
Thursday was teach Latin dance day. I interviewed dance instructor Briana Lasanta on the dances she was planning to teach, “[I was going to teach] Cumbia, Salsa, Bachata.”
Dayri even took a moment to explain the confusion between Hispanics and Latinos. Latin America and Central America. Latinos are from Latin America. As an example, she explained that she is Afro-Latina because she is from the Dominican Republic and she has some African background in her culture as well as Latino culture and Caribbean culture. Hispanics come from Central America like Salvador and Central American countries. For this coloring event, you don’t have to be Hispanic to color a flag, you could just color to support the HLC and the Hispanic community.
The Student Government Association (SGA) president, Mame Diop, was also present to “show the Hispanic Leadership Club that they have SGA’s full support and [she] also [wants] to learn more about the Hispanic culture and heritage.” Her answer to why it’s important to celebrate your heritage was “so you know where you come from and so you can show other people where you come from.”
Briana LaSanta explained other ways Hispanics could celebrate their heritage by donating to Puerto Ricans because they have been hit by Hurricane Fiona. She also loved the event like many others and was surprised by the number of students who came.
The event on Friday ended with students dancing in the courtyard and music pounding near the spiral staircase.