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Hispanic Heritage Month offers glimpse of culture

New Town Elementary fourth-grader Noah Ashburner, at right, was lucky enough to be chosen from the audience to dance the Mexican Hat Dance with Mariela Trejo of the Latin Heritage Dance Company during the school's celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.

Public schools around the county shared in the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated from Sept. 15, 2009, to Oct. 15, 2009.
   
Benton Heights Elementary School of the Arts, East Elementary, East Union Middle, New Town Elementary and Rock Rest Elementary were just some of the schools offering a celebration of Latino culture.
   
Maria Koonce, a teacher at Benton Heights Elementary School of the Arts, organized her school’s celebration. Customs and colorful dress were shared from Mexico, El Salvador, Puerto Rico, Guatemala and Dominican Republic.
   
Approximately 25 students in first, fourth and fifth grades took part in the activities. Some costumes were made by parents and volunteers, while others were drama costumes and/or found in thrift stores.
   
Benton Heights principal Mike Harvey got in on the action by dancing the Merengue with teachers Ana Ayala, Bryan James and Yolanda Weinbrenner.
   
Other performances included songs by Peter Conrad, and native dances from Puerto Rico, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
   
Koonce said she hopes the event will become an annual event. “We will do even more next year,” she said.
   
East Elementary School did live broadcasts each morning during their regular Morning Live Broadcasts. Students shared words in English and Spanish, gave reports on important Hispanic Americans, and talked of the weather in a Spanish-speaking country.
    Susan Hansen, the media coordinator at East Elementary, said on Oct. 2, 2009, “Oprah” interviewed six students who portrayed Hispanic American heroes.
   
Then on Oct. 22, 2009, the school highlighted all of the nations represented at the school during a 6 pm parents night.
   
East Union Middle held its first Hispanic Celebration, a night of music, dance and even dramatic performances provided by Melody Florentino’s drama classes. The event was held Oct. 8, 2009, in the school’s auditorium.
   
Susie Jones, the media coordinator at the school, said the Cielito Group of Monroe performed traditional songs and dances from various regions of Mexico.
   
New Town Elementary School celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month by inviting the Latin Heritage Dance Company to share their Hispanic flavor with the students and teachers.
   
“Juan Reyes Morales and Mariela Trejo danced many Spanish, Mexican, and Aztec Indian dances in the country’s traditional clothing,” said Catherine Perry, the school’s assistant principal. “ Dances included the Flamenco and the popular Mexican Hat Dance.” 
   
New Town Elementary fourth-grader Noah Ashburner was lucky enough to be chosen from the audience to dance the Mexican Hat Dance with Mariela Trejo of the Latin Heritage Dance Company.
   
Rock Rest Elementary School principal Wendy Gravely said the school enjoyed a Mariachi Band and dancers at the school on Oct. 14, 2009. It also celebrated with wall displays around the school.
 

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Oct 14, 2009 by Deb Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator

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