Published: 10/17/2021 10:09:43 AM
GREENFIELD – Students and families at the Four Rivers Charter Public School celebrated the end of Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month on Friday with an evening of traditional food, music and dance.
Since September 15, Four Rivers students have been celebrating Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month by honoring and celebrating the history, cultures, and contributions of Americans whose ancestors came from Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
“This is the highlight of Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month,” said reigning Headmaster Zevey Steinitz.
The month began by welcoming guest speaker Raúl D. Gutiérrez, Associate Professor of Latinx Studies and Spanish at Holyoke Community College, said Alison Rheingold, Director of Teaching and Learning.
Rheingold, who worked with Spanish teacher Elizabeth Rodriguez-Salas in organizing the monthly program, said the idea of celebrating Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month came from discussions in the group, Faculty of Racial and Social Justice, who were performing Efforts have been made and continue to do so to celebrate several different cultural months.
She said the last month was about both celebrating the people who identify as Hispanic or Latinx and those who don’t have a chance to learn about local empowerment efforts.
“We hope at the deepest level that people see our school as an anti-racist school,” said Rheingold.
The event on Friday, held in the courtyard of Four Rivers, included appetizers and small plates from Latin America, largely donated by local organizations, music by the band Viva Quetzal, and a performance of traditional dances by a group of seventh grade students. Banners created by student crews or advisory groups were hung around the courtyard.
Throughout the month, students created artwork, wrote essays, and learned about local activism efforts, Rheingold said.
Phin Solodky, 12, said he had the most fun learning about people and their experiences and how to be respectful of other cultures. He was very surprised to learn about the discrimination that many people still feel.
Another seventh grader, Penelope Peters, said she learned about Hispanic and Latin American heritage in addition to her Spanish classes, but also her English and social studies classes. She said it was important to draw attention to all cultures.
“We should celebrate every culture,” she said. “The vast majority of the US has people who are from (Hispanic and Latin American) cultures, or at least want to learn about them.”
Steinitz said Friday’s event was “really exciting,” especially given the rarity of face-to-face events since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“It’s a real opportunity for our community to get back together,” she said.
Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at [email protected] or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne