When the words “global community” are in the name of your school, you can be sure that students are going to spend a lot of time learning about international culture, the worldwide society, and how each of us fits into the world around us.
For students at Herbert Carter Global Community Magnet School, those lessons come every day, from Spanish lessons in grades K-6 to a school culture built around building leadership skills.
But this month, students are getting a little bit more international flavor in the form of “Hispanic Heritage Month.” The celebration began in September and will continue through October 15.
“To be a leader in the world, you have to know cultures other than your own,” said Shelbi Cole, an assistant principal at HCGC. “We work hard to embrace the international holidays. From an international perspective, Hispanic culture is such a big part of our world. We want our kids to be a part of it.”
For this month’s celebration, each student will participate in several activities each week centered around an aspect of Hispanic culture. For some students, this will be read-alouds about famous Hispanic people. Other students are spending time researching Hispanic countries and will give presentations to their class about what they learned. In art class, students are learning about Hispanic artists, like Frida Kahlo, Pablo Picasso, and others. In PE, students will spend time playing soccer, and learning about other games and activities popular in the Hispanic world.
Additionally, the school is playing Hispanic music in the hallways, and morning announcements are including “did you know” factoids about Hispanic culture. One of the keys, Cole said, will be helping students understand that Hispanic culture is very diverse. Many different nationalities are represented in Hispanic culture, including Mexican, Cuban, Guatemalan, Nicaraguan, and more.
With more than 10 percent of its students coming from Spanish-speaking families, Hispanic Heritage Month takes on an added importance for the HCGC community.
“We work hard all year long to embrace our diverse student body,” Cole said. “I think it’s really something that sets us apart. From whatever background you come from, you can find someone at our school who looks like you and talks like you. This is one of our school’s greatest strengths.”
Part of that cultural embrace is embodied in the school’s Spanish language curriculum, which is offered all year long. Taught by Ms. Carolina Campbell, every HCGC student gets 45 minutes of Spanish language instruction every week, from kindergarten through sixth grade.
“It’s way more than just learning colors and numbers,” Cole said. “When our students get to junior high, they are ready for advanced-level Spanish. Our fourth- and fifth-graders are translating, writing full paragraphs in Spanish. They’re not only speaking it, but they are also writing it.”
While this is the first year HCGC has celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month, Cole said plans are in the works to make this an annual celebration, that gets bigger and better in the years to come. In future years, Cole said the school has talked about adding a food festival and other celebrations.
“We love being able to celebrate diversity and cultural awareness in our school,” Cole said. “This is one way we empower our students to be engaged, responsible, collaborative, and confident in the face of life’s challenges.”