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Celebrating Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month

By Sandra Santana
Emma Willard School is proud to join the nation in celebrating Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month! This annual celebration honors the history, cultures, and contributions of U.S. Hispanic and Latinx communities to American society, including those whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America. 

Hispanic and Latinx Heritage celebrations date back to September 1968, when Congress enacted National Hispanic Heritage Week, recognizing the rich culture and contributions of Hispanic and Latinx Americans. Two decades later, lawmakers expanded the observance to a month-long celebration from September 15 to October 15. September 15th is a historically significant day, marking the anniversary of independence for five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. The designated period is also a nod to Mexico and Chile, which celebrate their independence on September 16 and September 18, respectively.   

Last week, Interim Assistant Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Gemma Halfi and BLSU Co-Heads, Asia F. ’22 and Emma S. ’22, invited our community to celebrate Hispanic and Latinx culture through engaging (and even delicious) programming: 

Monday evening, students joined alumnae Laura Reyes-Diaz '03 and Antonella Dominguez '14 for an intimate Zoom conversation. The panel, moderated by Ms. Halfi, covered a number of topics including identity, mental health stigmas in the Hispanic and Latinx community, and the complexities of navigating independent school culture as a person of color. 

Tuesday evening, SUNY Albany Latin American Studies professor Carmen Nieves joined us for a cooking lesson in the 2-e Café! Students learned how to prep and cook tostones, a staple dish in the Hispanic and Latinx community. Carmen, originally from Puerto Rico, emphasized how food is a simple yet wonderful way to bring people together. The students couldn’t agree more, as they shared stories of their favorite meals from home between bites of freshly made tostones. 

Friday morning, BLSU tested our Hispanic and Latinx knowledge with a community wide game of Kahoot! Students, EMployees, and families attending the special Fall Family Weekend edition of Morning Reports raced to correctly answer questions about musicians, Supreme Court judges, and even Churros! 

Throughout the month, our community has found additional ways to celebrate. In English I classes, students are reading With the Fire on High, by Dominican author Elizabeth Acevedo. The protagonist is an aspiring chef whose dishes are often inspired by her Afro-Boricua heritage. Last night, Kevin Bayer and the Emma Dining Staff brought the book to life, preparing a special dinner inspired by the novel. In another celebration of literature, the Library team created a book display highlighting Hispanic and Latinx stories and authors. Of course, no celebration is complete without a little music. Check out the all school Spotify playlist, created entirely from requests!

As Hispanic and Latinx Heritage month comes to an end, Emma Willard School is committed to continuing to celebrate all the diverse members of our community. Thank you to BLSU, Latinx Affinity, and Ms. Halfi for a great month of programming!
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    • Tostones lesson!

    • With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

    • With the Fire on High dinner menu by Emma Dining

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