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UCCAC, BB&T celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month at MHS

Four Monroe High School students are members of the Estrellas de Guerrero band. Pictured, from left, are Julie De La Cruz, Silvino De La Cruz, Issamay De La Cruz, Rodrigo Jimenez, and Marco De La Cruz

Music reverberated throughout the courtyard Friday, Oct. 3, 2014, during lunch at Monroe High School in celebration of National Hispanic Heritage month as students crowded the area eagerly watching their classmates perform cultural music.

National Hispanic Heritage month celebrates the Hispanic cultures and contributions of citizens of Hispanic descent. In observance of this month and to honor UCPS’s diverse student and staff population, the Union County Community Arts Council (UCCAC), in partnership with BB&T, coordinated a musical event hosted by Monroe High School.

Four MHS students are members of the Estrellas de Guerrero performing band and were asked to perform for their fellow classmates. Rodrigo De La Cruz and his cousin, Rodrigo Jimenez, both juniors at MHS, sing for the band.

They perform alongside Rodrigo’s sisters, Julie De La Cruz and Issamay De La Cruz who play the keyboard and drums, while their father, Silvino De La Cruz, sings with the other members.

The band was formed in Mexico and the family taught each other to sing and play instruments. When asked why he chose to create the band, Silvino De La Cruz said, “At a very young age I enjoyed the singing and instruments in Mexico but didn’t have the opportunities to build a band like I did here.”

The family practices twice a week in preparation for their weekend performances but Silvino De La Cruz’s priority for his family is education. School comes first and music follows.

“I really like the music,” said Marco De La Cruz. “I started the piano when I was 7 years old and my dad taught me.”

“I liked to sing when I was little and my mom said I had a good voice,” added Rodrigo De La Cruz.

Both girls, Julie and Issamay, began playing at the age of 12. “My dad taught me to play and I tried harder to learn,” said Julie De La Cruz.

Her sister, Issamay added, “I figured I’d give it a try and now I love playing the drums because I want people to know me more.”

UCCAC Executive Director Barbara Faulk attended the event and spoke to the students prior to their performance, offering encouraging words. “We are proud of you,” she said.

Also in attendance was BB&T Assistant Vice President Alex Aguilar. BB&T, a financial sponsor/partner with the UCCAC, is dedicated to developing and supporting services and programs related to the Hispanic community, Aguilar said.

The UCCAC’s primary focus is arts and education and they wanted to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage month and tried a new approach at MHS this year with this performance and have recently concluded a number of programs at the elementary and middle school levels.

“The arts council works within the community to locate and organize strong arts programs for residents of Union County,” Faulk said. “The council also supports community recognition and grant programs.”

Faulk contacted MHS principal, Brad Breedlove, who in turn directed her to teacher Jaime Tejada to schedule the band for this performance.

“The National Hispanic Heritage month celebration was very successful for our school,” Breedlove said. “Thanks to the Union County Community Arts Council and BB&T, our students and staff at Monroe High School enjoyed traditional Hispanic music in the courtyard during all lunches.

“It was great seeing all our students and teachers hanging out, socializing, listening to great music, and enjoying a nice fall day during their lunch break,” Breedlove added.  “Many of our students and staff even learned how to do traditional Hispanic dances. It was a great day and one that we will look to replicate in the coming years.”

Written by: Becky Swiger, Instructional Technology Facilitator Technology Services
Posted: Oct 14, 2014 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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