What is Hispanic Heritage Month?

Written by Lena Bolz and Karen Cruz

What is Hispanic Heritage Month?

Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the cultures, histories, and contributions of American citizens of Hispanic descent. In 1968, Hispanic Heritage Month was originally launched by President Lyndon B. Johnson as Hispanic Heritage Week. Later in 1988, President Ronald Reagan expanded the week to a 30 day period between September and October each year, which is now called “Hispanic Heritage Month”.  Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 to October 15 every year. September 15 is an important date for the Latin American countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, because September 15 is the anniversary for their independence from Spain. Mexico and Chile also celebrate their independence during this time.

During Hispanic Heritage month, the Arlington Career Center proudly presents an assembly dedicated to Hispanic Heritage Month. Hanging streamers and posters to decorate and spice-up the normally bland and neutral colored atrium, deemed the “Commons”. Each program takes part and makes a show for the audience. Performers come up onto stage; many of hispanic heritage, and they perform songs and dances, read stories and poems, and give information about their heritage. The community widely enjoys the event, and gives students of hispanic heritage a chance to honor their ancestry and heritage.

In previous years, Amanda Trevino (the HILT counselor), Madeline Lasalle (the HILT coordinator) and Yesenia Martinez (the Bilingual resource assistant) planned and coordinated the Hispanic Heritage Month assembly. “I have been here now, I think this is my eighth year, and I have helped plan it every single year,” said Trevino, speaking about her experiences so far with the Hispanic Heritage Month assembly. “When I first got here, eight years ago, they didn’t do it. And I was one of the staff members who was like, ‘How come we don’t do anything?’ So that’s when we started our first assembly.” Lasalle on the other hand, has been at the Career Center for only four years, and she has  been involved with the assembly every year. Lasalle stated, “I think the first year when I came, there was a big emphasis on dancing and music. I felt like it needed to be more than that. I wanted the Hispanic Heritage Month assembly to share all aspects of our culture.” Consequently,  she expanded the assembly to incorporate poetry, recognition of important historical figures, and more. Today, the assembly is a popular celebration as well as a celebration of Hispanic heritage.

The students have similar views as the coordinators, Arlington Tech student, Joseph D’emidio said that, “It’s a well needed celebration of the Spanish heritage.” Later in the interview, he stated, “I think that it brings those of Spanish heritage together, it makes them proud of who they are,” Many students approve of that statement; Olga Lopez, from the HILT program said something similar. “What do I think? I think that it’s a month where we can come together to celebrate our diverse culture and traditions.” said Lopez. “It’s my first year here at the Career Center, and it’s the first time that I’ve been to such an event. I think it’s a pleasure to have a month where we can celebrate our culture.” Over the years, the Hispanic Heritage Month assembly has grown in popularity and size, and the community is excited to present.

Last year, the Hispanic Heritage Month assembly started off with an introduction of the two hosts, Junior Porillo, speaking in English; and Georgina Rivera, speaking and translating in Spanish to the audience. After a brief synopsis of what the show would include, the performances kicked off. Starting off with a video by the TV Production class about several countries and things that each country was famous for, then followed by dances and singing performances, the assembly went harmoniously with no hiccups or interruptions. As the performances went on, it became apparent that each performer was truly proud of his or her  heritage and ancestry. At the end of the performances, students from Maria Sonnekalb’s second period Spanish class passed out Colombian arepas. Arepas are cheese, meat or bean paste filled corn tortillas. Flattened out and baked to a crisp.

Despite the positive and well-received celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, there has been some disagreement about the purpose and results of the Hispanic Heritage Month celebration. When Wilmer Castro – the Career Center’s Auto Collision and Repair teacher – was asked if this event bonded people together, he responded with “I think although it does bring people together, it could also bring people apart. I say this because we’re celebrating one heritage and not the other and that could really separate everyone.” Although there is a negative thought about Hispanic Heritage Month, Castro wanted the celebration to last not just one month, but all year, and for all of the cultures that are celebrated. Amanda Trevino – previously named as this year’s co-event planner – felt similarly about Black History month, and other less prominent months. She felt that instead of having a single month to celebrate each culture, that every culture and heritage should be celebrated all year round. Although, Trevino felt that along with uniting people of the same culture and heritage together, Hispanic Heritage Month also glorifies the celebration of heritage, instead of singling out a culture. But overall, the celebration and assembly are widely appreciated in the school, and it is looked forward to each year.

This year, Amanda Trevino and Madeline Lasalle are planning the event for another consecutive year again, with some help from other teachers and administrators. There is a lot of anticipation for this event this year, with many students planning or getting ready to take part in performances. Currently, during the Arlington Tech lunch period, performers practice their performances in anticipation for the event. There will be many performances to look forward to, including dances, presentations, and singing. The assembly takes place during second period, on October 27, 2017. This year’s Hispanic Heritage Month assembly is open to anyone to come and enjoy the show!

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