Hispanic heritage month in our community

Leo Quintanilla, Writer

Hispanic Heritage month is an annual celebration of the history and culture of the U.S. Latino and Hispanic communities. The event begins on September 15 and lasts until October 15. The timing of these dates are no coincidence – Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua all declared their independence from Spain on September 15, 1821. 


This year, considering the pandemic, celebrating has become a challenge. Mrs. Jonell Caliskan, an outgoing Spanish teacher, explained she really wants to involve the kids even when only using a screen, “I would like to take a virtual field trip to a Hispanic restaurant or tour the Hispanic art in D.C.”  


For now, Mrs. Caliskan is currently having her students research who different, famous Hispanics are and what they’ve accomplished. She also shared some of whom she admires such as: Celia Cruz, the queen of salsa, and César Chavez, a labor leader and Civil rights activist. 


Mrs. Bethany Brown, another Spanish teacher, spoke about how in her Spanish 2 class, they learned vocabulary relating to sporting events: “Which is a perfect opportunity to highlight and talk about Roberto Clemente, a Puerto Rican professional baseball player in the United States,” also comparing the cultural elements in some art from Carmen Lomas Garza and Frida Kahlo.


A woman not to forget is Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic and Latina on the Supreme Court. She represents the glass ceiling which can be broken through hard work and dedication.


Some people in our community recommended by Mrs. Caliskan include Maria Teresa Shuck, a leader and humanitarian, as well as Mr. Mark Kavanaugh, a Spanish teacher from Urbana High School. Maria Teresa has spent years serving and advocating for the immigrant community in Frederick and is a founding member and active volunteer for Centro Hispano. 


Mark Kavanaugh did so much to incorporate Hispanics in Frederick with his program; he had cultural dances,  took students to Nicaragua, created a newspaper called “El Halcón” that was student driven. Kavanaugh would also bring guest speakers and have them talk in the auditorium with music and food for all. Its purpose was to celebrate and honor the accomplishments of latino and hispanics in the community. 

This event is used to highlight people who have done good for the latino/hispanic community. Hispanic Heritage Month is not just for the independence of some countries, but to celebrate. How can you celebrate the Hispanics and Latino’s in your community?