Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of Americans whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988.
Watch video of 2021 Hispanic Heritage Month event here: Reencuentro 2021
Enjoy cultural expressions, food trucks, and a moderated panel discussion featuring Latino Arlington leaders and citizens.
2021 Latinx Student Honorees
The School Board is proud to present the annual Latinx student recognition event which highlights seven high school students chosen by their principals for their character, leadership and outstanding successes in school and life.
Hispanic Heritage Month Student Recognition – October 14, 2021
Antonia Jara Romero – Arlington Career Center
Antonia embodies the values of the Latinx and ACC community! We are very proud of recognizing Antonia and sharing the ways that she naturally exhibits these values. Her mindfulness is one of her most enduring qualities. She is a thoughtful communicator who listens to understand. She is focused on things that matter to her such as social justice and is a strong collaborator who seeks to learn from others. She expresses herself with warmth and uses her positive attitude as a tool for problem-solving and community building. Her integrity is evident in her careful planning and how she builds capacity for collaboration. She demonstrates resilience in facing the many challenges of being an immigrant from Ecuador. Antonia was able to overcome these difficulties and help her family move forward. She will graduate from high school with her associate’s degree in science from Northern Virginia Community College. As a leader, she respects others and uses her voice to celebrate and educate others within the ACC community and beyond. She co-facilitates the weekly Lunch Talk about Race and Identity, bringing topics to the table around diversity and equity within the school system and brainstorms ideas to address them. She cares about all of the programs in the school. She mentors and tutors students. She is the anchor for the news in Spanish, making sure our English learners are informed to make better decisions. She serves as an ambassador to the middle schools, talking to 8th graders about Arlington Tech. Her level of social responsibility also makes her an activist and an advocate for any marginalized communities in APS. She inspires us all to fight and pursue our dreams!
Josue Castillo Albanes – H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program
Josue entered school at H-B Woodlawn in 2019 after fleeing dangerous and violent conditions in his home country of El Salvador. When he made the decision to come to the United States, Josue left behind his family, his friends, his church community, and the promise of a full scholarship to any university in El Salvador. The transition to life in the US has not been easy, but as with every challenge he’s faced, Josue has preserved and met with success. As a student at H-B Woodlawn, Josue has been a leader in the classroom and within our EL student community. Throughout the school closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Josue was a reliable presence in online classes, actively participating and engaging with his teachers and classmates. Josue is proud of his heritage and is a willing mentor and role model for other students who are just arriving in the United States – encouraging others to continue their education and set new goals in their new country. We are proud of all he has accomplished and have no doubt he will attain his dream of attending an American college to study business and accounting.
Carlos Barrera Velasquez – Yorktown High School
Carlos came to Yorktown in February 2020, just one month before we all went virtual! Carlos was very helpful to his classmates as everyone adjusted to online learning and he remained involved and engaged. He approaches life with an optimistic perspective and finds the “silver lining” even when life presents challenges. Carlos became a Minority Men United Leader, meeting virtually on a regular basis with other leaders to promote academic and social responsibility among his peers. A devoted, responsible student, Carlos will put in extra work to take his learning to the next level. At the same time, he is a very approachable, friendly classmate who brings good cheer to the classroom. Our community is fortunate to have such a fabulous young leader.
Carla Becerra Sabrera – Washington-Liberty High School
Carla is a consummate exemplary learner. As an immigrant from Peru, Carla has shown resilience and perseverance at Carlin Springs Elementary, Kenmore Middle, and now Washington-Liberty High School. Mistakes don’t stop her but instead propel her to do even better work. She is a full International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma candidate and exemplifies many of the IB Learner Profile attributes such as open minded, caring, reflective, knowledgeable, and principled in academics and community service. In addition to a rigorous course load of college-level courses, Carla serves her community by tutoring students and plans to increase diversity and inclusion in Advanced Placement (AP) and IB classes by providing informational sessions to middle schoolers. She founded and led the Global Health Relief fundraising campaign, which partners with the non-profit Lutheran World Relief, creating school and health kits to send to students in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Carla is a member of Washington-Liberty’s Latin American Student Association (LASA) helping to celebrate Hispanic cultures and support English Learners. She deeply values global equity and has also worked to support disadvantaged children and families by leading the UNICEF club at Washington-Liberty.
Edgar Cabrera Gonzalez – Arlington Community High School
I am proud to recognize Edgar Cabrera Gonzalez as Arlington Community High School (ACHS)’s Hispanic Heritage Month Student Leader. Edgar is a wonderful example of leadership, resilience, dedication, and promise. He has lived in Arlington for over 5 years and transferred to ACHS 3 years ago from Wakefield. He is a dedicated student who is on-track to graduate this spring. He is quick to help others in class and is dedicated to obtaining his diploma. He is a school leader and is a member of the Key Club. In addition to taking a full load of classes at ACHS, Edgar works at a restaurant to support his young family. He, his wife, and child are active in their church. For several years, he has been studying Theology, in hopes of pursuing it as a career. We all look forward to Edgar’s continued contributions to our community after his graduation. Great things await him!
Kevin Claure – Wakefield High School
Since his freshman year, Kevin set goals to prepare himself to attend university for his post-secondary education. We talked about what courses he needed to meet that goal and he did everything so he would excel. I remember observing him in his English 9 class. He was the only student who raised his hand to answer questions. He readily followed the directions provided by the teacher and remained focused on the tasks at hand. This tenacity provided him the skills to increase his level of rigor each year since then. Last year, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Kevin and his younger brother remained virtual for the full school year. I was completely amazed by their progress which needs to be accredited to Kevin’s work ethic. Since both parents were out of the home during the day, it was Kevin’s responsibility to both participate during virtual synchronous class time as well as ensure that his intellectually disabled younger brother was also fully engaged with his teachers in synchronous time. Kevin repeatedly completed work on time, interacted with teachers when he needed help, prepared himself for assessments, as well as ensured the same for his younger brother. It was very impressive to watch. In addition to his academics, Kevin volunteers regularly to help his community. He volunteers at the local library by organizing books and Legos, as well as at his church where he helps prepare and distributes food to children. Perhaps his most rewarding activity is helping with the Special Olympics local basketball program. He assists with coaching youngsters during practice on how to dribble and shoot, in addition to games. He was presented with an award for his efforts.
Erickson Escalante – Langston High School Continuation Program
Langston has chosen Erickson Escalante to receive the Hispanic Heritage Award. Erickson’s unique background, experiences, and perseverance has led him to the receive this award. Erickson arrived to the United States in 2015 to be reunited with this mother who he had not seen for approximately five years. A native from Guatemala, and Spanish and Mam speaker, he has encountered countless challenges; however, his resiliency has allowed him to overcome each one of them, becoming a responsible young man. Erickson loves history and English, but would love to become a Physical Education or Math teacher. In addition to studying full time, he is currently working two jobs, and is the bread winner of his family which is composed of eight brothers. Erickson will become the first individual in his family to graduate high school and pursue a college education. To accomplish this, he would like to begin attending NOVA first after graduating high school.