Jemison Middle School observes Hispanic Heritage Month

Published 3:41 pm Thursday, September 26, 2013

Jemison Middle School students perform choreographed dances for their classmates during lunch Thursday as part of the school's observance of National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Jemison Middle School students perform a choreographed dance for their classmates during lunch Thursday as part of the school’s observance of National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Students at Jemison Middle School have spent the last two weeks engaging in lessons and activities related to Hispanic culture.

Since 22 percent (121 out of 547) of JMS students are Hispanic, and with National Hispanic Heritage Month occurring Sept. 15–Oct. 15, administrators decided September was a good time to launch the school’s first observance of the event.

JMS Assistant Principal Laura Ward said the school’s population of Hispanic students has risen, and celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month is an effort to make the students feel as important and welcome as everyone else.

“We’re all humans, no matter what cultural background we come from,” Ward said. “At the end of the day, we still want all children to be treated fairly and feel safe no matter what ethnicity they’re from.”

On Thursday, Hispanic students sang two songs in Spanish, “Cielito Lindo” and “Mexico Lindo Y Querido,” and performed choreographed dances for their classmates during lunch.

The students decorated the school with streamers, posters and Mexican flags before their celebration began Sept. 16, which is Mexican Independence Day.

The students have also taken turns sharing Hispanic culture facts with their classmates each morning, and administrators provided teachers with lessons about Hispanic culture to incorporate into their daily curriculum.

“All of our students participate,” Ward said. “This celebration gives all of our students the chance to explore different cultures and learn about the similarities that we can share.”

“We want them to celebrate their differences and embrace each other’s culture,” JMS full-time counselor Sherry Parrish said.

On Oct. 11, Hispanic students and their parents will share homemade authentic Spanish cuisine with JMS teachers and staff.

Although Hispanic students at JMS said this is the first time they have celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month at school, they would like to continue in the future.

“We all had fun doing this,” Tony Aquino said, and Grace Garcia added, “We get to be together a lot.”

Students also said the celebration has helped them share more with classmates about their dress, religious beliefs and sports interests.

“Everybody else knows what we do,” Jose Campos said.

Along with Aquino, Garcia and Campos, other Hispanic students who sang and danced Thursday were Maria Maldonado, Cristophor Gress, Marlen Nieto, Benjamin Vazquez, Erika Hernandez and Brian Amador.