Flamenco dancers Ely Cardenal and Ernesto Caballero lead a dance with the students. During the performance, Cardenal and Caballero invited the students to dance with them, teaching them basic steps. (photo by Sarah Hinnant)
Flamenco dancers Ely Cardenal and Ernesto Caballero lead a dance with the students. During the performance, Cardenal and Caballero invited the students to dance with them, teaching them basic steps.

photo by Sarah Hinnant

Hispanic Heritage Month expands to Phase Two

As the 4th period bell rings, Ely Cardenal prepares for her performance. The music starts. Castanets in hand, Cardenal begins clapping and dancing to the fast-paced rhythm, attracting viewers and cheers.

On Sept. 23, Cardenal and her dance partner Ernesto Caballero performed the flamenco at both lunches as a part of Fiesta Fridays, just one addition to the array of activities introduced by Assistant Principal Reginald Miller.

Under Miller’s direction, Hispanic Heritage Month has expanded to include more activities. What started as Phase One last year, which included putting up posters and flyers about Hispanic Heritage Month around campus, is now on Phase Two, which includes a much broader array of activities. This includes Fiesta Fridays, where Hispanic music or entertainment will be played at both lunches, an Encanto door decorating contest led by the Black Student Union, and the creation of the Hispanic Student Union.

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Fiesta Fridays: Flamenco dancing

photo by Sarah Hinnant

Senior Damarco Cummings dances to the flamenco music. Students gathered around the courtyard to join Cummings in learning flamenco steps.

Fiesta Fridays: Flamenco dancing

When FTE clerk Joanie Rodriguez heard of the plans to expand Hispanic Heritage Month activities, she immediately thought of her flamenco teacher, Cardenal. Wanting to showcase more diversity at the school, Rodriguez coordinated with her teacher and on Sept. 23, Cardenal and Caballero performed. 

“There are a lot of Hispanic descendants at the school, so I thought it’d be a cool experience to have [Cardenal] perform and show us a bit of Spanish culture,” Rodriguez said. 

Although flamenco is a part of Hispanic culture, students of all races and colors enjoyed the performance, with many taking pictures with Cardenal and Caballero and talking to them after the performance. 

“This is the most fun I’ve ever had at this school,” freshman Maya Chang said. 

The students’ positive reception was certainly the one Cardenal had been hoping for, who said she hoped the students would want to find out more about Hispanic culture after watching her perform.

“It was nice to spread the culture here in the local community because people don’t know too much about flamenco here,” Cardenal said. “And it’s such a beautiful culture with histories from all the way in southern Spain.” 

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Spanish Honor Society

photo by Sarah Hinnant

Flamenco dancers Ely Cardenal and Ernesto Caballero dance. Cardenal founded Flamenco de Perfil and often partners with other flamenco dancers like Caballero.

Spanish Honor Society

Several clubs and honor societies also took part in raising awareness for Hispanic Heritage Month, including Spanish Honor Society and student government. 

“Heritage months start a conversation. People live in their own cultural bubble and it’s important that they are exposed to different things,” SHS president Ariana Seguinot said. 

Throughout Hispanic Heritage Month, which lasts from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, SHS is reading a daily fact about Hispanic history on the announcements, participating in the door decorating contest, and partnering with Culinary and Woof TV to create an infomercial about tortillas and their cultural significance in different countries.

Seguinot, who read the first daily fact on Sept. 15, explained why that day was chosen as the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month; it is the Independence Day for five different Hispanic countries: Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. 

On their Sept. 9 meeting, SHS brainstormed which famous Hispanic people should be recognized and student government designed posters to honor famous Hispanic people like Salma Hayek, a Mexican-American actress, Simon Bolivar, a Venezuelan military leader who won the independence of many Hispanic countries, and Domingo Liotta, an Argentine surgeon and pioneer of heart surgery. 

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Black Student Union

photo by Levi Cal-Rivera

Assistant Principal Reginald Miller and BSU president Ciara Bibbs speak at the BSU meeting on Sept. 15. At the meeting, officer elections were held and Bibbs spoke about the upcoming HBCU Week.

Black Student Union

The Black Student Union, the first in the school’s history, was created to celebrate African-American culture and history, but also prides itself in helping other minority groups achieve the same success. This month, BSU is hosting an Encanto door decorating contest that is open to everyone. Encanto, a film released in Nov. 2021, was praised for its accurate representation of the Latin community and the deep ties that bond Hispanic families. Similar to how each member in the Madrigal family had their own special doors in the movie, teachers can decorate their doors to celebrate Hispanic heritage, and whoever has the best door decorations wins a prize that is yet to be determined. 

Senior Lizt Trapaga, the Special Events Coordinator of the BSU, wanted to create a safe space for not only black students, but students of all races and colors. 

“I wanted to be part of [BSU’s] legacy. To be able to say that I was here, as well as to inspire others in the future,” Trapaga said.

Aided by the BSU, the Hispanic Student Union will hold an interest meeting on Sept. 29 after school in the media center. 

Seguinot, who plans on attending the meeting, feels that the Hispanic Student Union is important because it connects people across cultural boundaries. 

“I hope that [the Hispanic Student Union] just brings more awareness and allows people to learn more about a culture outside of their own,” Seguinot said. “Just doing that can make an impact on the way people think and act.”

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