Blazers learn more about Hispanic and Latinx cultures through fun activities all month long.
It's 7:45 a.m on Sept. 15, and a sea of students streams through Blair's hallways on their way to class. While most students wear muted t-shirts and hoodies, dozens of students are wearing flags around their shoulders, and others still don vibrant soccer jerseys. This is the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month, where Blair celebrates the contributions of its Hispanic and Latinx communities to the school and the United States.
Hispanic Heritage Month, which lasts from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, originated in 1968 under the directive of President Lyndon Johnson, and in 1988, it was expanded from a week to a month by President Ronald Reagan.
This month includes the independence days of several Central American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua on Sept. 15; Mexico on Sept. 16 and Chile on Sept 18. Students and staff learn about the variety of foods, clothing and values. This is especially important at Blair since 33.7 percent of the Blazers are Hispanic or Latinx.
ESOL teacher Michael Herlihy believes that this month gives the students a sense of acknowledgement. "I think the kids feel recognized for who they are. The school does it throughout the year, so it's not like they only feel recognized during this month, but I think it is still important that they feel recognized," Herlihy says.
Spanish teacher Dianette Coombs further explains why it is so important to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. "Blair is a microcosm of the community. So we must recognize the cultures that are represented in Blair . . . We need to talk about the distinct ethnic groups that live here: the Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, etc. We must share … their culture [and] food," Coombs explains.
Senior Geo Rivera says that the significance of recognizing Hispanic Heritage Month is more than celebrating individuals. "When we share our stories, we are more accepting, and we are eliminating ignorance, which is where most of hate is rooted, so I think we would be doing everyone a disservice by staying quiet," Rivera says.
Blair offers a variety of activities and events in honor of this month. Previous events included a lunchtime mariachi concert (Sept. 15) and an indoor soccer tournament (Sept. 21-Present).
One main celebration at Blair is Voces Unidas, which is Blair's Hispanic Heritage Month show. There are singers, dancers, and actors who perform cultural pieces. The show's focus is to celebrate the contributions of the Hispanic and Latinx countries around the world and to Blair.
That said, despite the abundance of activities, students feel that the Hispanic Heritage Month Committee (HHM) needs to improve on their advertising of these events and celebrations.
Originally, the calendar was only found on Principal Renay Johnson's Twitter page, so many students were unaware of these events. Senior Xiomara Deodanes wasn't aware about the celebrations until her ESOL teacher told her to look at the calendar on Johnson's Twitter page. "In the beginning, I didn't know about the events during lunch," Deodanes says.
Nevertheless, this celebration is a step forward for Blair in honoring its Hispanic and Latinx communities. Rivera notes that Blair only recently started celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. "We didn't have anything for this month up until three years ago," Rivera says.
Assistant Principal Adriana Burgos-Ojeda says that the momentum for this month continues to grow. "Before, I used to have to reach out to our media outlets, and now people are coming to me, recommending activities and asking what is going on. So it's now part of the natural dialogue," Burgos-Ojeda explains.
In the upcoming weeks, there will be art and music-related events. A Frida Kahlo exhibit will be on display in the media center from Oct. 12 to Oct. 15. Latin music is played in the courtyard every Wednesday, and Voces Unidas will be on Oct. 23. Events are still being added and can all be found in the calendar.
Burgos-Ojeda and the HHM welcome suggestions for future activities and celebrations. "We are just extremely open to what anyone wants to do. Any student or staff member that comes up with an idea and wants to deliver is welcome and encouraged to do so," Burgos-Ojeda says.
With such a large and involved Latinx community here at Blair, there’s no doubt that student and staff input will help Hispanic Heritage Month continue to improve each year.
Celine Wu. Hi everyone! My name is Celine, and I am a junior staff writer. I play volleyball for high school and MetroVBC. In my free time, I solve logic puzzles and play with my two fat cats. I also bake cakes for profit; my most popular … More »