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.
2020 Latinx Student Honorees
The School Board is proud to present the annual Latinx student recognition event which highlights eight high school students chosen by their principals for their character, leadership and outstanding successes in school and life. The School Board will recognize these outstanding students at the Board meeting on Oct. 8, which starts at 7 p.m.
New Directions: Heber (Santi) Montes-Galdamez
Santi emanates resiliency and leadership. Since his arrival to the New Directions program he has experienced personal and academic success by taking responsibility for his actions and investing in positive personal and academic changes. Through the support of his family and New Directions, as well as, his willingness to grow as a person, Santi has greatly improved his GPA, making honor roll regularly while in attendance at New Directions. He also excelled in his Digital Photography class at the Career Center. Last school year, Santi won the Arlington Public Schools Martin Luther King, Jr. Literary Award for his essay on peace. During this COVID crisis, Santi has been an important financial contributor to his family and has shown great resiliency and responsibility during this difficult time. Santi will be attending Northern Virginia Community College after high school. Santi’s future is bright. We look forward to hearing all the amazing things he will accomplish. Santi, congratulations!
– Mr. Chip Bonar
Yorktown: Eric Hernandez
Eric Hernandez is an all-around exemplary young man. He is soft-spoken and humble, always engaged and ready to help. He is the epitome of Yorktown’s ROCS motto, always respectful of others, his community and himself. Eric is a leader in Club Cafe, a monthly lunch group where students help their peers practice appropriate social skills over lunch. Eric’s openness and genuine interest in others allows the students who are not as comfortable talking to their peers to also open up and engage in conversation. He is also a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and plays in the Yorktown Jazz Band. As a member of both Tri-M, a music honors society, and the National Honor Society, Eric dedicates more than 40 hours each year to community service. Eric is also an outstanding student. His academic achievements have led to his being honored with the Principal’s Award in both 10th and 11th grades. He challenges himself with advanced classes and works hard to excel. Every day and in every way, Eric is an excellent role model.
– Dr. Kevin Clark
Arlington Career Center: Scarleth Barrera Jovel
I am proud to recognize Scarleth Barrera Jovel as Arlington Career Center’s Hispanic Heritage Month Student Leader. Scarleth arrived to the U.S. four years ago from Honduras to reunite with her mother. Scarleth is a hard-working, dedicated, self-driven young woman. Not only does she excel in her academics, but she is also committed to supporting her peers in the challenges faced by immigrant youth. Last school year, Scarleth served as the President of the English Learner Institute. During her term, Scarleth organized fundraising events, and she started a support group for unaccompanied youth. Scarleth has also won recognitions in the Skills USA competitions for Auto Collision and Repair. Currently, Scarleth is a leader in Arlington Career Center’s Student Government. Her courage and leadership by example is an inspiration to us all.
– Ms. Margaret Chung
Washington-Liberty: Pedro Palacios
Pedro Palacios has been a positive, unifying leader since he entered W-L as a freshman. Pedro’s inviting and kind presence in his classes, hallway, and athletic teams have made him a favorite among the teachers, students, and support staff at W-L. He is a two-sport student/athlete, playing on both the soccer and football teams, an active member of the W-L LASA Latin American Student Association (LASA) club and has participated in the Hispanic Heritage assembly. Pedro has also maintained part-time employment throughout high school while balancing his academics, sports, family, his faith, and his social life.
It is not uncommon to see Pedro lending an unsolicited helping hand to a classmate or teammate in need, walking through the hallways at W-L with an infectious smile and a quick hello, or finding a positive way to make the best out of a difficult situation. Pedro is assertive and articulate in expressing his opinions, suggestions, or answers to school/societal problems in a productive manner which exemplifies his leadership, intelligence, and concern for others. Pedro has been a solid positive contributing force in his time at W-L and I am excited to learn about his future successes and journeys. Pedro plans on attending college in the fall of 2021 and playing football.
– Mr. Antonio Hall
Arlington Community High School: Carlos Henriquez Gonzalez
Carlos Henriquez Gonzalez is an amazing Arlington Community High School Maverick. Originally from El Salvador, Carlos enrolled at ACHS in September 2017. From the moment he started high school, he was committed to graduate from Arlington Community High School, despite any adversity. He consistently takes a full load of classes every evening, four nights a week, in addition to working eight hours a day as an auto mechanic. Carlos has not missed a day of school since he started studying at Arlington Community High School. His remarkable attendance, dedication, and excellent performance in class have helped Carlos to earn all A’s in all his classes so far. Carlos is kind, responsible, and cares about his classmates and school staff. He loves to participate in school activities and has volunteered at many school events. He has led singing at our winter celebration and volunteers to bring in authentic Salvadorian food during other celebrations. Carlos is proud of being Salvadorian and we are proud of Carlos for being a role model as well as a great representative of the Maverick spirit at Arlington Community High School.
– Dr. Barbara Thompson
H-B Woodlawn Secondary School: Joel Escobar Amurrio
Joel Escobar Amurrio is a stand-out student at H-B Woodlawn and we are proud to nominate him for this recognition. Joel contributes to the H-B Woodlawn community in a range of different ways. He has played in our orchestra program since he arrived in 8th grade. He also immediately joined the Ultimate Frisbee team and has been a consistent contributor as a player and teammate throughout high school. Academically, Joel challenges himself with our most difficult courses. As a junior this year he is taking five Advanced Placement (AP) classes across a range of subject areas. He is most deserving of this recognition.
– Dr. Casey Robinson
Wakefield High School: Valeria Flores Siles
In my nine years as a school counselor, Valeria stands out as one of the most determined students I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Valeria arrived to the US from Bolivia in 2018 and began 9th grade in High Intensity Language Training (HILT B) English classes and is now a senior taking several Advanced Placement/higher-level classes.
Valeria is extremely independent, resourceful and always searching for different opportunities and programs to take advantage of. In 2019, she applied for and was granted a scholarship to study abroad in Spain. In 2020, she applied for and was awarded another scholarship to study abroad in Germany (prior to COVID-19).
Despite facing multiple challenges, including being separated from her father, Valeria has always maintained a positive and fun-loving attitude about her life and future. She is extremely devoted to her education.
Valeria has a strong passion for theater, learning multiple languages, and volunteer work. Aside from participating in school theater and Asian Club, she’s also an actor at The Signature Theater (2 years). Outside of school, she works three jobs to help her family: part-time cashier at Harris Teeter, Spanish tutor to middle school kids, and English tutor to adult learners.
Although just 17 years old, she is very mature, self-aware, and has a powerful understanding of the world around her. She exemplifies the confidence, personality, and determination that you wish all high school students had.
– Dr. Chris Willmore
Langston High School Continuation Program: Vidal Lara Durán
Vidal Lara Durán was born in Santa Tecla, El Salvador. He moved to the United States six years ago, traveling alone to reunite with his father and one of his sisters. Adjusting to his new life in the United States was challenging for many reasons. First, he missed his mother and other sisters. Moreover, he had difficulties with the English language. Despite these challenges, Vidal continued to persevere. After a few years, he decided to enter the Career Center to take auto mechanic classes. Vidal is currently working full-time with Amazon. In addition, he is finishing his last four classes to graduate in January of 2021. Lastly, he is enrolled in an auto mechanic course at the university level. Furthermore, he is an active member of his church’s youth group, assisting in coordinating food and clothing drives. Most importantly, despite his busy schedule, he was able to maintain a 3.9 GPA. His life goals are very important to him. After completing this degree, he plans to move to Colorado to open an auto mechanic shop with a friend. Vidal indicated that he is always grateful to God because of his family and teachers as they are always available to support him.
– Mr. Cleveland James