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National Hispanic Heritage Month (through 10/15)

Sep 15, 2015
from 12:00 AM to 12:00 AM
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Across the country, Sept. 15 marks the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month, a celebration of the culture and history of 54 million people or 17 percent of the population, according to the most recent census.

In Albuquerque Public Schools, where two-thirds of the student population is Hispanic, connecting to cultural roots goes beyond the month-long celebration. It's reflected across the curriculum all year long.

“It’s part of the culture of the state, the valley, and the city,” said APS Fine Arts Director Luis Delgado. “It’s important to understand what the traditions are and how they originated so students develop their identity and awareness for where they come from.”

Hispanic arts are incorporated into the curriculum, especially at the elementary school level, where students learn the traditional Hispanic arts including creating their own variations of retablos and learning traditional Mexican dances and bilingual songs, Delgado said. Some schools, for example, offer Flamenco dance classes as an after-school program.

Middle school students have the opportunity to learn the Flamenco guitar as an extracurricular activity. At Atrisco Heritage, Albuquerque, Del Norte, and West Mesa high schools, students can join Mariachi programs. 

In addition to the fine arts, dual-language programs are increasing across the district. APS recently converted Hayes Middle School into its first dual-language, STEM middle school. 

At Coronado Elementary, dual language immersion is a constant for the students with younger students spending 90 percent of their time in Spanish. They also have a Spanish choir, Voices of Coronado (Voces de Coronado).  

Principal Anna Marie Ulibarri says they integrate culture into nearly every aspect of their curriculum because research shows it gives students a sense of priding in knowing who they are. They also learn to appreciate diverse ideas- ideas Ulibarri says they will carry now, as young children, and as they grow into the workforce.

“I believe celebration of culture helps connections- when we celebrate who we are as people.” Ulibarri said. “It is important to recognize strength we bring to larger world. We find it in all cultures and its crucial.”

If individual school celebrations of Hispanic Heritage Month are not enough, the district also hosts the Festival de Bella Artes, a two-day festival in February. In the full days of activities, students work with professionals in music, dance and drama to perform a variety show for parents and the community.