For the fifteenth consecutive year, students and staff from Little Village Academy kicked off Hispanic Heritage Month with a school-wide parade meant to celebrate the culture and traditions of their Mexican-American community.
Students in grades Pre K-8 dressed in traditional Mexican attire, many of them donning sombreros and carrying flags and maracas as they walked the streets of their Little Village neighborhood.
“The vast majority of our students are of Mexican-American descent,” said Little Village principal Lillian Lazu, “and it’s been our tradition to expose them to the details of their culture and encourage them to celebrate their heritage.”
At the conclusion of the parade, students and staff gathered in the school courtyard for a culminating event that began with a performance by the Little Village Academy Band. The students played both the U.S. National Anthem and the Mexican National Anthem, after which Principal Lazu spoke the Grito de Dolores, or “shout for independence”, which has great significance for her school community.
“It was the phrase that marked the start of the Mexican War for Independence,” said Araceli Perdoza, the literacy coach at Little Village Academy. “These words were uttered by Fr. Miguel Helgado on September 16, 1810, which has since been declared Mexican Independence Day.”
Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 – October 15, and Little Village Academy will celebrate in some way every day. Each school day will begin with a morning message, where students focus on a particular moment in Latino history. Students will learn about the historical figures that have played a role in Hispanic culture, particularly in art and music class, and will participate in read-alouds and novel studies to better understand Hispanic literature and the authors who have influenced Latino culture. Additionally, students in grades 1-8 will have the opportunity to study mariachi music and Mexican folk dancing after school.
“All of this is our way of celebrating the beauty of our culture,” said Principal Lazu. “Our goal is to help our students understand where they come from so that they will be proud of their heritage.”