LANSING, Ill. (October 24, 2023) – Reavis Elementary School ended Hispanic Heritage Month with a new tradition at its second annual Hispanic Heritage celebration on Friday, October 20 from 5 – 7 p.m.
The two-hour celebration featured food and beverages, live performances, a traditional Mexican game, and arts and crafts. Also, El Encanto’s food truck made an appearance in the school’s parking lot.
National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated each year from September 15 to October 15. School officials plan to make a celebration at the end of Hispanic Heritage Month a tradition at Reavis.
“The purpose of this event is to ensure the cultures we serve in the community are not left out,” said Patrice McCoy, Principal at Reavis Elementary School. “[Reavis] has many students that are Hispanic [so] we wanted to make sure that they are celebrated.”
Carmen Gutierrez, a teacher a Reavis Elementary School, played a huge role in organizing the event.
“I am very grateful for having such a wonderful team to help make this event a success,” said Gutierrez. “It took teachers, teachers’ aides, administration, custodians, students, and parent volunteers to make this all happen.”
Activities and performances
The first half of the event took place in the cafeteria where people played a child-appropriate version of the traditional Mexican Bingo game called La Lotería, while others made “Day of the Dead” masks out of paper plates.
Attendees also enjoyed traditional food, beverages, dessert, and candy including Mexican-sodas (Jarritos), tamales, rice and beans, chips and salsa, and Mexican sweet bread (conchas).
Many of the food and beverages were donated by businesses in Lansing. La Rosita Grocery Store donated tamales and candy, Tacos and Burritos donated rice and beans, and La Soga Mexican Restaurant donated chips, salsa, and fresh water called “agua de horchata.”
Attendees then moved to the gymnasium to watch performances pay homage to Hispanic culture and heritage through dance. The performances were provided by Ministerio de Danza from the church organization Santa Maria.
“[This event] opens all our lenses [to] the various cultures we have in the Lansing community and the importance of each because every [culture] is important,” McCoy said.
Celebrating and learning together
Students at Reavis participated in various activities to help them learn about Hispanic culture during Hispanic Heritage Month.
“It is important for students to see their culture being exemplified but also for [other] students to gain a lesson in other cultures…from food to games to entertainment,” McCoy said.
Morning announcements were spoken in both English and in Spanish every day of the month and they included one Spanish word a day. On Fridays, the Pledge of Allegiance was announced in Spanish and English.
One influential Hispanic American was announced per day and displayed on the wall in the hallway.
Also, fifth graders announced fun facts about the countries that were celebrated during the month.
A group of students made the banner displayed in the front of the stage used by the performers. The banner is a form of traditional Mexican art, known as Papel picado, and used in celebrations such as “Day of the Dead”.
“My son was absolutely ecstatic to attend the event,” said Amia Phillips, parent to a kindergartener and second grader at Reavis Elementary. “[Reavis] talks a lot about Hispanic heritage at the school and celebrating different cultural aspects of Hispanic heritage. … He wanted his family to attend [the event] so without a doubt we made it.”
“We want to do our part to show we care and to give back to the community that we are here to serve,” said McCoy.
Reavis Elementary School is located at 17121 Roy St. in Lansing.
- Library hosts Hispanic Heritage Month Fiesta – ‘We need to come together to understand one another’ (September 26, 2023)
- Nathan Hale Elementary School hosts first ever Nigerian heritage celebration (October 22, 2023)