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School celebrates culture

Published: Thu, May 9, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.

Pupils and professionals alike performed during the celebration.

YOUNGSTOWN -- Hispanic music and dance filled East Middle School on Wednesday morning.

The occasion was a celebration of Hispanic Awareness Week, aiming to inspire Hispanic pupils to have pride in their heritage and to teach all pupils about the culture.

"My goal is to make sure they don't forget their roots," said Linda Cruz, teacher and program organizer. The school's population is 12 percent Hispanic.

Begun four years ago, the performance has expanded to include several dances by both professionals and pupils. There's also a procession of flags from Hispanic countries by the Hispanic pupils on the honor roll and honorable mention list.

Getting ready

Preparation for the performance began several months ago as pupils made homemade maps and flags of the countries to decorate the auditorium walls.

The pupil dancers, called the Bilingual Dancers, practiced up to five days a week. They learned traditional dances including La Bamba and the merengue.

Pupils not only got to see these dances performed, but also learned some history about them from guest speaker and native Puerto Rican Felipe Gonzalez.

"The music was influenced by many, many movements and adventures the people had," Gonzalez said. "La Bamba tells many, many stories in the expression of movements, in the body language."

Speaking in both English and Spanish, Gonzalez and Cruz worked to express their love for Hispanic culture and the need to pass it on.

"I want to instill in them that they can do it. They can graduate. They can go on. They can make something of themselves," Cruz said. "But don't forget where they came from."


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