Hispanic Heritage Month is an annual celebration that recognizes the contributions and influence of Hispanic Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States. To commemorate the occasion, which spans from September 15 to October 15, King School students immersed themselves in learning-by-doing research, delivering presentations, reading books, listening to music, and watching films on Hispanic culture.
The Lower School displayed books in its lobby featuring works that the students read as they focused on Hispanic authors, artists, and musicians. “Dreamers,” “Radiant Child,” and “Waiting for the Biblioburro” were among the works showcased, each book highlighting a different aspect of Hispanic culture and people of influence in the community.
Lower school students also celebrated the music of Cuban-American singer Celia Cruz and Puerto Rican-American musician Tito Puente in their performing arts class. “Students listened and moved with so much expression to the music we heard in class,” said performing arts teacher and DEI coordinator Cara Welch. “The song ‘Guantanamera’ by Celia Cruz quickly became a favorite for the students. They also enjoyed ‘Mambo Gozon’ and ‘Gato Miao’ by Tito Puente for the music’s infectious instrumentation and tuneful singing.”
The Middle School used its several television monitors to feature rotating displays with flags of Spanish-speaking countries mixed with fun facts about the Hispanic culture. Teachers created newsletters with recommendations for podcasts, films, and books by Spanish-speaking artists and authors.
Students also learned about Hispanic heritage in class. For example, seventh grade students read a short story from the collection Flying Lessons, which illustrates the challenges of a Spanish-speaking family whose children are attending a private school in the United States. The story served as a segway into a discussion about the importance of diversity and inclusivity.
“As a Middle School, we want to embrace Hispanic and LatinX culture in a way that is ongoing, not just for one month. Hispanic and LatinX culture, along with many other unique ancestries and heritages, all contribute to global citizenship at King,” said english teacher and middle school DEI coordinator Stephanie Hoos. LatinX is a recently coined gender-neutral term to refer to people of Latin American descent and a nonbinary alternative to Latino or Latina.
In the Upper School, students Ben Persily ’23, Peri Ferguson ’22, and Leo Berardi ’23 delivered a King Talk presentation about the differences between LatinX, Latino, Hispanic, and Spanish. The students focused on the work of three specific activists: Sage Grace Dolan-Sandrino, Sara Mora, and Daphne Frias.
“The presentation delivered insight into some of the issues that LatinX activists are energetic about and illustrated that young people have a powerful voice in the community and in politics,” said mathematics teacher and math DEI coordinator Sara O’Toole.
King’s Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Dr. Clyde Beverly attended a number of the activities on campus throughout the month. “Being inclusive is an intentional effort, and it’s an integral part of the learning that occurs here at King. The celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month throughout the campus is a perfect example of how diversity is not an extra thing that we do. Rather, it is embedded into everything that we do,” said Beverly.