The district held its fourth annual Hispanic Heritage Celebration on Oct. 20, recognizing Hispanic students who have engaged in civic and community engagement and participation within their school while demonstrating pride for their language and culture. Held during the Board of Education meeting at the high school auditorium, the event coincided with Hispanic Heritage month, which pays tribute to the generations of Hispanic, Hispanic Americans and heritage speakers who have positively influenced and enriched the nation and society.
Selected by Islip’s ENL and world languages department, in collaboration with the Hispanic Heritage Committee, nine district students were honored: Zuleyma Coto Guzman of Wingl; Cristian Martinez Ortiz, Alexis Montoya and Emily Sarai Coronado of Commack Road; Dennys Alfaro Umanzor and Bryan Alvarenga of Sherwood; Viancy Cordova Mejia of the middle school; and Daiana Fuentes Velasquez and Jimmy Larrea Salvatierra of the high school.
Suffolk County Legislator Samuel Gonzales, a Hispanic community leader, was on hand as a special guest to recognize the students along with administrators and Board of Education members. As their proud families watched, each of the honorees received a proclamation from Gonzales, an award certificate from the ENL and world languages department, and a gift coupon from BJ’s Restaurants.
“This year’s theme was ‘Hispanics Proud of Their Culture and Language,’ and there are many ways that our students show pride for their culture and language,” said Priscilla Zarate, Islip’s coordinator of ENL and world languages. “Often times this pride can be visible through three concepts of a culture: products of a culture, practices of a culture and perspectives of a culture.
“Products of culture are the tangible and intangible pieces of our Hispanic culture. For example, we sometimes hear our students share stories about how a Sunday cleaning home chore is also about teaching the children how to dance merengue, salsa or cumbia or vallenato. Nothing is done in isolation in our Hispanic culture. Everything is done with intention, to help our children become multi-taskers. So, children learn how to clean, dance and become stronger as Spanish speakers through this task. Another example is when our students share with their peers how they helped their parents cook a ceviche or rice and beans or an arepa con queso for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
“Practices of a culture are the social interactions and behaviors of our culture, and we often see these reflected in our students when they share their traditional celebrations such as: Three Kings Day, Day of the Dead, the Patron Saint Festival of San Salvador and the many other national celebrations that take place throughout Latin America.
“Perspectives of a culture are the attitudes, values and beliefs of our culture that are represented by the importance of family unity, or when students demonstrate signs of respect towards an adult or an elder by making minimal eye contact when an adult is speaking, as it can be taken by our elders as an affront or a challenge of authority. All of these concepts – products, practices and perspectives – are merely examples, representative of the Hispanic culture.”