October 9, 2020
Nightingale is proud to take part in Hispanic + Latinx Heritage Month, which is celebrated annually from September 15 through October 15. Initially, only a week long when the celebration began in September 1968, it was expanded to a month in 1988. The holiday begins in the middle of the month on September 15 because it is an important date in Hispanic + Latinx history. Five Latin American countries gained their independence from Spain on that date in 1821: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
Through assemblies, advisory, and infographics, students have had the opportunity to learn about Hispanic + Latinx people, places, and milestones that have directly and indirectly impacted their lives through literature, performing arts, politics, and more.
Our Lower School assembly began with community storytelling as several of our Hispanic and Latinx students, faculty, and staff shared their heritage stories with us. Students traveled virtually around the globe as they learned about the cultural traditions, foods, holidays, music, and more from Puerto Rico, Cuba, Venezuela, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, and even our own New York City neighborhood, Washington Heights.
Senorita Porras described the delicious arepas her grandmother would prepare for her after a long day of swimming at the beach in Venezuela. Ms. Bedoya showed us pictures of the beautiful Feria de las Flores (Flower Festival) in Medellin, Colombia where her extended family lives. Ms. Allison recounted her favorite holiday, El Nochebuena (Christmas Eve), and the wonderful Cuban feast she would eat with her grandparents. Finally, Chef Hinds-Ortiz told us about the leatherback sea turtle conservation work he does in Puerto Rico every year.
LS Spanish Program Coordinator Senorita Porras and Lower School Librarian Ms. Westman then read aloud from the book Islandborn written by Junot Diaz and illustrated by Leo Espinosa. The story tells the tale of Lola connecting with her own Dominican heritage as she learns about where she came from with the help of her family and extended community. In the words of her abuela (grandmother), “Just because you don’t remember a place doesn’t mean it’s not in you.”
To close, Music faculty member Ms. Alexander led us in a celebration filled with music and dancing as we learned the song “Que Bonita Bandera” (“What a beautiful flag”). Though students are not singing inside the Schoolhouse currently, they are definitely still dancing (socially distanced, of course) and our entire Lower School had a blast dancing along to Florencio Morales Ramos’ famous song about the Puerto Rican flag in their pods and in their homes.
All students were encouraged to keep the celebration going by talking to their Hispanic + Latinx friends to hear their stories about their culture and heritage, to read books by Hispanic + Latinx authors, and to visit our Nightingale Virtual Music Room (set up by Ms. Alexander) to practice singing “Que Bonita Bandera” at home and explore music from other Spanish speaking countries.