Hispanic heritage at Pershing Park Elementary School took centerstage Thursday, meandered down every hallway, and made its way around the outer perimeter of the school where hundreds of family members gathered for the annual cultural celebration.
Minutes after the front door opened, the cafeteria was packed with parents, siblings, and others to take in the music and dance representing a variety of Hispanic nations.
Second-graders performed traditional music of Colombia and Mexico, including the popular folk song about Don Gato, the cat who is “fluffy, white, and nice and fat.”
Community dance groups representing Panama, Puerto Rico, and Mexico also performed.
Pershing Park’s fifth-grade bilingual classes provided the finale with classroom aide Zaret Figueroa joining as a soloist.
Fifth-grade bilingual teacher Janette Marquez said the school embraces the Hispanic culture because it is such a large part of its identity.
“We are a dual language campus, and we want to recognize that heritage,” she said. “A lot of our kids are from here, but they have parents and grandparents from other places, so this is very special.”
Marquez said she remembered when families at the school who were Hispanic were all from one country.
Now, she said, the school has students from many of the 20 countries that fit that description.
A bulletin board at the front of the school, prepared for the special event, linked specific students to 13 different Hispanic countries, a powerful visual image of the school’s connection to the culture.
Following the music and dance, family members walked through the hallways, decorated to represent a variety of countries.
They also lined up at tables surrounding the school, where families provided authentic food to celebrate the day.
“What I like about this is all the parent support we get,” said Parent Liaison Maria Santiago-Rivera. “They always respond. The families bring food, and our aides do the decorations.”
“It’s exciting to see the kids sing songs for us.”
Last year's event drew more than 600 people.
Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Central Texas CEO Juan Rivera reviewed the history of Hispanic Heritage Month.
The observance stretches from September 15 to October 15. Those days coincide with the anniversary date of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Chile.