Thirty years ago, Congress recognized Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 as Hispanic Heritage Month. On Aug. 8, the Cabrillo Unified School District board approved a proclamation that acknowledges the ways Hispanics have “shaped and strengthened” the United States.
“It’s amazing. And the timing is perfect,” board member Lizet Cortes-Ronquillo said. “Right now, with immigration and the current situation, people are feeling frightened and afraid. It’s a breath of fresh air.”
It’s the first time CUSD has adopted an official resolution for Hispanic Heritage Month. Leticia Bhatia, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, helped draft the proclamation.
She said schools have received resources on how to support diversity in the classroom, whether it’s for Hispanic Heritage Month, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month or LGTB History Month. These ideas include quotes of the day or including diverse role models in social sciences.
“We live in a community that’s diverse and values diversity,” Bhatia said.
In the district, 51.6 percent of students are of Latin descent, and the resolution is in honor and celebration of “the culture and contributions made by Hispanics and Latinos to (CUSD),” the board memo states.
Bhatia highlighted the way the proclamation is worded to be inclusive. The third line reads, “Whereas, Hispanic, Latino, Latina, or Latinx individuals represent a wide range of nationalities and backgrounds, including Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other cultures or origins regardless of race.”
She said the language used to describe Latin heritage has evolved over the years to be more inclusive of women, people from a variety of countries and LGBTQ members.
Hispanic Heritage Month begins on the same day as five Latin countries’ independence days. Mexico’s and Chile’s independence days also fall within the month-long veneration. Bhatia said it’s a move away from only celebrating Latin, and especially Mexican, culture on Cinco de Mayo, which is not widely celebrated in Mexico.
The theme this year is “Hispanic Americans: A history of serving our nation.” To celebrate, the district is holding its first annual Hispanic Heritage Month art contest. Students from pre-K to 12th grade are asked to submit a drawing or painting on an 8½-by-11-inch piece of plain paper by Sept. 11. Entries can be turned in at the student’s school.
A panel of CUSD representatives will judge the art based on creativity and incorporating Latino themes into the artwork.
The winning art from each grade will be displayed at a local site, and the district is also working with the city of Half Moon Bay to acknowledge the winners.