APS NewsCheck

APS Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

hispanic heritage monthSince Sept. 15, Arlington Public Schools has joined communities across the nation in celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. The rich and diverse culture is an important part of the community. The celebration began with the School Board honoring eight students for their leadership and hard work in and out of the classroom at their Sept. 21 meeting. The students included Cesar Alvarado, Yorktown; Natalie Arandia, Washington-Lee; Jordan Gormes, Langston; Sara Calzada-Duran; Arlington Career Center; Jonathan Hernandez, Wakefield; Rodrigo Hernandez Martinez, Arlington Community High School; Miguel Ramirez, New Directions; and Allan Villanueva, H-B Woodlawn.

The #APSHHM celebration will conclude on Oct. 20 as APS host its Third Cosechando Sueños para Nuestros Niños / Harvesting Dreams for Our Children. The signature event is for Latino families in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. The event will take place at Kenmore Middle School from 5:30 to 9 pm.

Other school-related celebrations included:

Wakefield bilingual resource assistants; Walter Valdez, Carlos Murillo, Martha Heredia and counselor Analia Almada took 40 students to George Mason University’s 17th Annual ALCANZA College Fair on Oct. 10. Mason hosts Alcanza as part of an effort to inform the Latino high school student population in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area about their higher educational opportunities and to encourage them to pursue their education beyond high school. The day was created to get students motivated and excited about their post-secondary plans. Over 150 colleges from all over the nation attend Alcanza with about 2,000 high school students from all over the area. The students in attendance heard from a keynote speaker and college student panel, as well as had the opportunity to participate in the college fair. Lunch is provided to all the students who attended. The day is truly an opportunity for these students to understand the college process and begin to resolve where they would like to spend their college years.


ASFS HHMASFS first grade teacher Lauren Worley led several Hispanic Heritage activities with her class. They talked about what heritage means and then shared where their families are from. Next they talked about the countries where people speak Spanish and who had parents or families from those countries. They located the countries on a map and then looked at the flags of each country to see how they were the same or different than the U.S. flag. Finally, the students learned a song about colors in Spanish and identified the colors of each flag in Spanish.


MckInley HHMMcKinley hosted an Hispanic Heritage Read-In where parent-volunteers, staff, and APS Library Services personnel including Kathleen Mauldin, Theresa Flynn, Dionel Johnson, and Valaria Soroko read in all classed. Kindergarten assistant Claudia Santos wore authentic El Salvadorian clothing, shared facts about her culture and shared special treats in all the kindergarten classrooms.


Nottingham teachers collaborated to teach the importance of Hispanic Heritage. During Spanish class, Señora Ofelia McKenzie explained how Hispanic people have made contributions to our nation. Art teacher Samantha O’Connor had fifth grade students create a mural of several important figures and librarian Nicole Gustafson read books in Spanish and taught students the Mexican Hat Dance.


DC Commissioner Walter Deleon visited Jefferson on Sept. 28 to speak with students. The presentation was coordinated by Cindy Hooper. Deleon is the youngest Hispanic elected official in the history of Washington, DC.  The son of two immigrants from Guatemala, Deleon made his foray into politics as an intern for Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells in high school. Throughout the 2014 primary election season, Deleon ran a highly successful voter registration drive throughout various DC schools, registering over 200 high school students in a three month period. In November 2014 at age 18, Deleon was elected as Commissioner with 92% of the vote and became the youngest elected official in District history.


In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month at Abingdon, Parent Resource Coordinator Caty Branco organized a group of moms to put together learning activities for the different grade levels. PreK, kindergarten and first grade students learned about the colors in Spanish; second through fifth students learned the Spanish-speaking countries and an interesting fact about each. Also, during our morning announcements, Caty Branco invited different presenters from San Salvador, Bolivia, Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico, and a group of singers from Luz Jarzen’s FLES class to sing and read poetry in Spanish. After each presentation, there was a trivia question connected with the country, and winners received a prize and recognition during morning announcements.  Abingdon is also offering three after school classes to learn how to dance Cumbia from Colombia, Calypso from Venezuela, and San Juanito from Ecuador. To finish off the celebration, the school’s Hispanic community is hosting a “Latin Lunch” for staff on Wed, Oct. 25.


Drew HHMAt Drew, teachers provided opportunities that engaged students in becoming global citizens. Montessori and Model Spanish language teachers focused on culture; including the Parade of Silletas. The parade offers participants the opportunity to express their artistic flower flair, while giving spectators a wave of picturesque colors that are a feast for the eyes and fills the air with the lovely smells of bouquet flowers. Librarians focused on Hispanic storytellers. Libros en espanol (Spanish books) are resources that many students overlook. El Mes de Herencia Hispana (Hispanic Heritage Month) provides a great platform that exposes students to Hispanic literature, especially since many are learning Spanish. Superintendent Dr. Pat Murphy also served as a guest reader during the celebration.


On behalf of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation and Walt Disney Studios, on Sept. 13,  a group of Wakefield students were invited to attend Disney’s Masters Class presented by Adrian Molina. Molina began working at Pixar Animation Studios as a story intern in the summer of 2006. After joining the studio full-time Molina worked on the Academy Award®-winning feature films “Ratatouille” and “Toy Story 3,” and was a story artist for Disney’s Pixar’s “Monsters University.” He is the Co-Director and writer on the studio’s upcoming original film, “Coco” which opens Nov. 22, 2017.  Also included was a   Q & A session that explored and discovered the wonderful world behind the animation studios while hearing Adrian’s story and learning about his journey to becoming a director.  Chaperones included, Wendy Maitland, Lisa Labella, Jina Davidson and Amanda Gallardo.