This year, Princeton Day School has acknowledged Hispanic Heritage Month and explored Hispanic heritage across the US, MS and LS academic program and through extracurricular initiatives. Several faculty, staff and students who identify as Hispanic/LatinX have shared their cultural perspectives with the community, including raising awareness of challenges they have faced because of their identity.
Lower School Music, and Assembly, Explore Spanish
For the past month, the LS music program has focused on learning songs and activities that explore Hispanic heritage and the Spanish language. See a previous news story highlighting the LS music activities. At a recent Lower School assembly focused on Hispanic heritage, several students shared brief videos introducing themselves in Spanish and sharing their family backgrounds. See the "Family Backgrounds" segment of the LS Assembly below:
Middle School Día de los Muertos Art Tells Many Stories
Since she has been at Princeton Day School, MS Art teacher Deva Watson asks her students to create an ofrenda, an annual Hispanic heritage-focused art project. A home altar with a collection of objects on ritual display during the traditionally Mexican Día de los Muertos October celebration, an ofrenda is typically created by families to honor people who have died and is intended to welcome them to the altare setting. This year's ofrenda project provided an opportunity not only to explore HHM, but to reflect and grieve in a visual way about the many losses experienced in 2020. Ms. Watson asked the students to consider a person either in their lives or someone or something currently in their thoughts for which they are grieving. The students responded strongly to the project, as you can see from the range of works they developed for their ofrenda.
Photos above and at top: views of Middle School art ofrenda items and "love"-themed mosaics.
Upper School BLSU Takes Center Stage
The Black and LatinX Student Union (BLSU) led the way in putting together a number of different HHM events and initiatives for upper schoolers in the past month:
- Wear Your Favorite Soccer Jersey Day
- Acknowledging the strong passion for fútbal in Hispanic and other cultures, students and faculty were encouraged to represent their favorite soccer club by wearing a soccer jersey to school.
- Hispanic/LatinX songs at Lunch
- A Spotify playlist of BLSU members' favorite Hispanic/LatinX songs created a musical background during Upper School lunchtimes.
- Flag Day
- The Hispanic/LatinX community was encouraged to represent their heritage by wearing their flag colors to close out the month
- PDS Pulsera Sale
- A favorite tradition in recent years on campus, the Pulsera Project buys bracelets (pulseras) from almost 200 artists in Nicaragua and Guatemala to sell on campus. All bracelets sell for $5 and all proceeds go directly back to the Pulsera Project to support jobs, educational programs, scholarships, community development, housing and workers rights in Nicaragua and Guatemala. Visit the PDS Pulsera Project website and Instagram for more information or to participate.
Black and LatinX Student Union (BLSU) faculty advisors, Assistant to College Counseling Darling Cerna (left) and US science teacher Alana Allen (right), participated in the Pulsera Project and helped support the HHM-focused US Gathering.
A recent Upper School Gathering focused on the theme of spoken languages for Hispanic Heritage Month. Student speakers Josh Colon '21, Ida Perez Jimenez '22, Fabio Yales '21, Britney Chia '21 and Joaquin Rodriguez '23 shared about their personal experiences growing up identifying as Hispanic or LatinX. Each student explored their identity and the pride they have developed in their Hispanic cultural background and language. At the same time, they also sought to raise awareness among their peers about the obstacles and perceptions they have faced during the process. Head of the BLSU Josh Colon shared his perspective on Hispanic Heritage Month and how exploring HHM helps shape the community at PDS:
I am a first-generation Hispanic/LatinX student. Hispanic Heritage Month is a chance for me to really highlight my origins and share them with a community I have grown to love over the four years I have been here. When I was a freshman, there was no HHM presentation besides maybe a flyer in the halls. I was happy to be part of the change happening at my school as part of the BLSU and I am proud that we have been able to make the HHM celebration an annual event. I love my culture and my ethnicity; I find it essential to my story as I wouldn’t be who I am without it.
One thing I want people to understand about HHM is that, although we celebrate where we are from and how proud we are of our origins, there is still change that needs to occur with the treatment of the Hispanic/LatinX community and all other minority communities in this country. I want HHM to be not only a time to celebrate how far we have come, but to highlight where we need to be. Change isn’t easy and it takes time, but times like HHM, I believe, are crucial because it gives a rather small portion of the PDS community a chance to take center stage and be heard more than ever.
Photos: Josh Colon '21, Head of BLSU, during the Pulsera Project; and in school photo