Food, crafts, dancing and, most importantly, learning about different cultures were some of the activities that filled Hispanic Heritage Month in St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools.
Hispanic Heritage Month is observed nationally Sept. 15 through Oct. 15.
"As our Hispanic population continues to grow in our schools and communities, we find that it is important to embrace and celebrate the diversity of our students,” said music teacher Tonia Hampton, who led Hispanic Heritage Month activities at Fifth Ward Elementary School. “Hispanic Heritage Month gave us a wonderful opportunity to do just that. The students enjoyed participating in a variety of activities that highlighted some of the cultural, musical, and artistic contributions of Hispanics to the world."
Her students learned about Latin musicians, colored masks, learned the song “Bate Bate Chocolate” in Spanish and danced. Younger students made a Puerto Rican Guiro out of water bottles and popsicle sticks, while others made maracas out of water bottles and popcorn.
At East St. John Preparatory Academy, students discussed why it is important to recognize cultures outside of their own and identified similarities and differences between holidays and activities in their own culture and that of the Hispanic community.
“This is all about learning about others and how learning about others breeds acceptance,” English language arts teacher Melesha Cotton told her class of sixth-graders.
East St. John Preparatory Academy students also enjoyed a Hispanic Heritage Book Soiree, practiced Spanish vocabulary, made mini sombreros and worry dolls and danced while enjoying snacks such as tacos and nachos.
At LaPlace Elementary School, morning announcements highlighted Hispanic facts and well-known Hispanic Americans and art and music classes learned about famous artists and musicians.
Kindergarten through second-grade students at Lake Pontchartrain Elementary School were read books about famous Hispanic Americans. Third- through fifth-graders colored flags and wrote sentences about the country to which that flag belonged. Sixth- through eighth-graders researched and wrote about the culture, food, music, traditions and languages of Hispanic countries.
Emily C. Watkins Elementary School students participated in a poster contest, enjoyed Hispanic food and music and heard daily announcements recognizing renowned Hispanic Americans.
John L. Ory Communications Magnet School created a video celebrating the accomplishments and cultures of Hispanic Americans and learned songs in Spanish, while at the St. John STEM Magnet Program daily announcements focused on renowned Hispanic Americans in the fields of engineering, math and science.
West St. John High School Spanish students participated in activities surrounding heritage such as discussing their "abuelas" and other family members in Spanish.