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Carrboro ES Builds Community with Hispanic Heritage Month

National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated each year from September 15 to October 15; although all of CHCCS finds ways to educate and celebrate this important month, the two Spanish dual-language elementary schools, Carrboro Elementary and Frank Porter Graham, hold extensive, daily activities.

Carrboro Elementary School (CES) offers both dual-language and traditional tracks, with slightly higher enrollment in dual-language. During Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM), students and their families share and teach about their cultural traditions and in the past, the festive atmosphere has pervaded every hallway and learning space. But the transition to online learning means online celebrations, too, and the planning team has worked hard to create a comparable sense of joyful observance.

 CES HHM poster The team started with a name, ¡Celebremos Latinoamérica!, to identify the focus for the month. They wanted to make sure they could provide online activities for families and staff, in addition to the many offerings for students. Everyone has access to a Padlet that invites staff and families to contribute information about their own Latin American Heritage, using a global map as its starting point. Locations already include Guatemala, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia, and families are only just beginning to place their names and information on the map. Another interactive project is the evolving “Hispanic Latin Cuisine,” with recipes coming for arepas, pupusas, alfajores and arroz de leche.

During the first 20-30 minutes of each day for morning meets, teachers will listen to Hispanic music from many cultures, honor a wide range of Hispanic people, past and current and learn more about Hispanic-American history. Every class has chosen at least one Hispanic country and will spend coming weeks learning its songs, reading stories and discussing traditions.

Erika Pawlowski, CES music teacher, said, “I do a school-wide Song of the Month every month, where I choose one song to teach to Kindergarten-5th grade and then we sing it at the last Cub Rally of the month. Our October song of the month will feature a Hispanic connection.  Students will be invited to personalize the song to themselves and rewrite the lyrics in English or Spanish (or another language of their choosing).”

Carmen Castanet Betts, CES assistant principal, commented on the creative ways the staff planning team has worked to bring ¡Celebremos Latinoamérica! into a virtual format.  “Usually we do a parade with staff and students in typical dress, and an amazing potluck and assembly featuring community members, teachers, and students.  We deeply miss the connection and community involved in our usual celebration this month, but I have been so impressed with the creative events planned for families and staff to celebrate virtually.  Teachers are creating dance videos, recipe and cooking tutorials, collages of students in their typical dress, and a movie viewing for families and staff, just to name a few.  It is bringing a much needed sense of connectedness during this time.”

CES HHM poster