Students celebrate Hispanic heritage
By Amanda Tonoli
Students celebrated Hispanic Heritage at Martin Luther King Elementary.
Twenty-one Hispanic countries’ flags were on display Thursday morning, as well as various students’ artwork representing cultural customs for Spain, India, Africa and more.
Spanish-speaking and English-speaking students and parents came together to sing the national anthems of both the United States and Puerto Rico.
Ruth Rojas, English Language Learners teaching assistant, said celebrating Hispanic heritage is most important because of its educational piece.
“As we do our celebrations, we continually educate [students] about different countries and the histories and – in addition to the language – with the children in this particular location we emphasize Quinceanera tradition,” she said.
A Quinceanera is a birthday celebration for a girl turning 15.
“It’s wonderful seeing all the kids wanting to have and plan their Quinceaneras when they grow up,” Rojas smiled.
In addition to teaching cultural customs, Hispanic heritage celebrations help students and people in the community overcome stereotypes.
“We teach what encompasses every aspect of a person – spiritual, wisdom and knowledge,” Rojas said. “One of the things we would love to see is people who respect one another. ... Through our celebration at MLK, students get a sense of wanting to learn people’s stories and that’s just part of opening up communications.”
All-in-all, Youngstown City School District CEO Krish Mohip saw the event as a success.
“Our children are so talented,” Mohip said. “I always enjoy seeing their skills and gifts – in art, music, theater, sports and in the classroom – on display. Events such as the art show at Martin Luther King allow families and community members to enjoy and appreciate our students’ talents as well.”