A Look Into Hispanic Heritage Month at Chamblee

Millie Gotsch, Staff Writer

Chamblee students last month heard different stories of prominent Hispanic figures in history as part of the daily morning announcements. This was all part of the September 15 to October 15 celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.

“Hispanic Heritage Month is a month-long celebration where we highlight people of Hispanic descent and/or people that were born in Latin American countries or who were born here in the U.S., and that have contributed to Latino advancements in, whether it could be in science, art, music, or anything else,” said Spanish teacher and department chair Sharen Trepovich.

Hispanic heritage is a big part of Chamblee considering the amount of Hispanic students in attendance. Hispanic Heritage Month was first created by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968, and it coincides with dates of independence for many different Spanish speaking countries. 

“Chamblee has been doing this for many many years. I’ve been here in the school for 14 years, and since I remember, we’ve been doing activities for Latinos and their families,” said Gina Rios, a Spanish teacher at CHS.

Many activities are being done at Chamblee to celebrate this month of Hispanic independence and recognition. Teachers are starting to participate and helping to bolster student involvement.

“My National Art Honor Society students made some posters of contemporary Latinx artists, and we printed out some images of their artwork and them, wrote some facts about them, and laminated them and hung them down in the cafeteria,” said art teacher Kimberly Landers.

Activities such as these create a sense of community throughout the school and help to educate students about people who are essential to the Hispanic Heritage movement. Other world language teachers are also participating in activities to help spread knowledge about Hispanic culture.

“Here in school, every morning we’re doing the morning announcement. We’re doing the Hispanic spotlight where we are highlighting a country or special person through HOPE, which is Hispanic Organization Promoting Education,” said Trepovich. “We actually have a Hispanic Heritage celebration which highlighted a few people that are of Hispanic descent, I believe, Connexion Latina was also looking at local people that have helped the community here at Chamblee.”

Clubs are a great way for students to get involved in celebrating Hispanic culture and heritage, and there are many prominent clubs led by teachers who help to lead events that further the understanding of Hispanic culture. 

“We have many clubs. My club is Connexion Latina, and we have Latinos Engineers. Ms. Trepovich has a club named HOPE and we would invite everyone that is Latino or of Latino descent to be part of it. And if you’re not of Latino descent, you are also welcome to join,” said Rios.

Teachers are also participating in individual activities in their classes to help students learn more about prominent figures in Hispanic culture.

“Particularly here in my class, I have an everyday highlight of a person, and [I] ask several questions about whether or not they know who they are and then I introduce them and show them a little bit of the background and how they have contributed to the U.S.,” said Trepovich.

Hispanic Heritage Month helps to highlight particular problems that students may have to face and works on creating a sense of belonging in the school.

“I was born and raised in Costa Rica. It was really difficult for me when I moved. I made a transition here to the U.S., and I moved to Connecticut where there were not many Hispanic people in the school where I was. I remember that it wasn’t really celebrated but I had a lot of people that appreciate my culture so they were open to learning about it,” said Trepovich. “I think that’s what it is like, when you feel part of the community, you feel better about yourself and I know this Hispanic Heritage Month isn’t really celebrated every single school, but if we have the opportunity to celebrate here, obviously it’s going to be for the benefit of the students.”

With high hopes of creating a positive environment in the school, teachers continue to help students learn and further their understanding of the way that Hispanic leaders, artists, and other prominent figures have helped the U.S.

“I hope that it gives a greater sense of belonging and connection amongst the student body. You know, we pride ourselves on being a country of people from all over the place. And then that sometimes really easily goes by the wayside and we don’t recognize enough, the diversity that exists within our culture and how much more meaningful and impactful society can be when everyone is coexisting. All the exciting influences from one culture to another. Recognizing the struggles between different groups of individuals makes everybody stronger as a community so community building, in a nutshell, is what we’re trying to do,” said Landers. “We just took it upon ourselves to do something because we were motivated to do so.”