NEW ROCHELLE, NY — Across the City School District of New Rochelle, classes have been observing Hispanic Heritage Month with dance performances, lessons on the influences of Latin American luminaries and art projects inspired by the upcoming Dia de los Muertos.
The Columbus Elementary School PTA has been busy preparing for that school’s annual Hispanic Heritage Celebration tonight, in which families of the students and alumni enjoy dancing and food from throughout Latin America.
“This is the event of the year,” said Assistant Principal Shelli Owens. “There are games, there’s food and dancing. It’s fabulous.”
Hispanic Heritage Month concludes Monday. Schools found various ways to celebrate the cultures of Latin America and the contributions that people of Hispanic heritage have made to the United States, and to the world.
At the Campus Alternative School, Program Administrator Joel Fridovich has begun each day announcing facts about Latin Americans and the countries of Latin America, starting with the reason that the month begins September 15. (Five Latin American countries – Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua – all declared their independence on that date in 1821.)
At Isaac E. Young Middle School, each morning has begun with a Hispanic-American historical fact. Lessons on the influence of Hispanic authors, artists, designers and others, as well as Hispanic cuisine and architecture, infused World Language and social studies lessons while seventh-grade literacy classes focused on The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros.
Albert Leonard Middle School students explored Latin American culture, history, music and art. Eighth-graders created Dia de los Muertos masks and learned about the traditions of the Mexican holiday and mask making.
At Henry Barnard Early Childhood Center, the Phyllis Rose Dance Company visited in September. Some classes are learning about important Latin-American figures such as artist Frida Kalho. Students at Jefferson Elementary School also enjoyed a performance of dance styles from Latin countries. The school will hold a celebration for families on Thursday. Trinity Elementary School English language learners created individual coats of arms to celebrate their diverse cultural backgrounds.
At William B. Ward Elementary School, students have learned a different Spanish word each day with the morning announcements. Some classes looked at the important cultural differentiations between Dia de los Muertos and Halloween, or studied famous Hispanic leaders. Second-graders are engaged in a geography unit on the Spanish-speaking world.
“It’s wonderful to see the variety of fun and innovative activities our schools put together for the month,” said Interim Superintendent Dr. Magda Parvey. “Hispanic Heritage Month is such an important time in the New Rochelle community, and our teachers and administrators rose to the occasion with activities that celebrated the history, the art, the flavors and the intellectual treasures that Latin American countries and Latin Americans have contributed to this country and to the world.”