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Chicago Public Schools Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

15 September 2022

Festivities Slated Across the District

CPS Office of Communications

Phone: 773-553-1620
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CHICAGO -  Chicago Public Schools (CPS) will celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month beginning today in ways large and small, from the recognition of a national Latina leader to all-school assemblies that will feature traditional costumes, dance and music, to the candlelit altars honoring loved ones who have passed away and school hallways adorned with banners and flags reflecting the cultures and traditions of nearly half the District’s student population. While the special month’s festivities officially end on Oct. 15, the District aims to honor and elevate its multicultural student and staff population every day of the year. 

“We are excited to see our students learn about and celebrate the rich cultures, traditions and significant contributions of our students and their families,” said CEO Pedro Martinez, the District’s first Latinx leader.  “It is a great opportunity for our students to explore the history and achievements of Americans who hail not only from my native country of Mexico but from all of Latin America, the Caribbean, and Spain.” 

As we kick off the month, CEO Martinez shared a Hispanic Heritage Month video message with the CPS community in English and Spanish Thursday afternoon via social media. 

At 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 16, District and school leaders will honor Activist Dolores Huerta during a school assembly at the Back of the Yards High School as part of Hispanic Heritage Month. Dolores Huerta, 91, co-founded the United Farm Workers (UFW) in 1962 with Cesar Chavez, advocating for the rights of farm workers in this country.  She went on to advocate for immigrants, women’s rights, reproductive freedom, LGBT rights, the working poor and her community at large for more than 60 years.

Now president and founder of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, Huerta has been inducted into the U.S. Department of Labor Hall of Fame and was the first Latina to be inducted into the National Hall of Fame.  In 1998 President Bill Clinton awarded her with the Eleanor D. Roosevelt Human Rights Award and in 2012, President Barack Obama honored Dolores Huerta with the highest civilian award in the United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“We hope this exposure to a wonderful Latina role model will inspire students of various backgrounds to respect and explore the cultures and contributions of people that are both similar to their own background and different,” said CPS Network 8 Chief Lucilla Davila, a key organizer of Friday’s event. “These specially designated months may start and end on specific dates but we know the time spent learning about our history, people, and ideals, will make a lasting impression.” 

Later, at the September Board of Education meeting, CEO Martinez will honor Manuel Sanchez, the first Mexican-American principal in CPS History, who passed away in August. Sanchez grew up in Back of the Yards with three siblings. He was the son of an immigrant stockyard worker from Jalisco and a mother from Tamaulipas. Sanchez attended Seward Elementary School and Gage Park High School before he enlisted in the Army. He returned to marry his childhood sweetheart in December 1952 and the couple and their family would have celebrated their 70th anniversary in December.

Manuel Sanchez began his CPS career as a grade school teacher at Lawson and Bryan Elementary Schools and an assistant principal at Hammond School. In 1971, Sanchez became Chicago's first Mexican American principal when he was selected to head Komensky Elementary School. In 1977,  he took over the leadership role at Bateman, where he remained until his retirement in 1990. Principal Sanchez led efforts to improve bilingual education and school building conditions. He was known for treating others with kindness and respect, creating an inviting school community.

The vast majority of Hispanic Heritage Month events and activities will take place in schools across the District as students and staff explore and celebrate the impact of the Latinx community in their District, city, and beyond. Hallways and classroom doors will be decorated with special banners, flags, and images of notable Latino activists, artists and musicians. Students will be invited to wear traditional attire representing their culture and heritage.  Spanish-language music from various countries will be played and traditional dishes like tamales, pupusas and empanadas will be made and shared in classrooms and school fiestas across CPS.

Media are welcome to any of the following events but must alert CPS via in advance. Please note these are just a sample of the many school-based activities taking place this month. 

Hispanic Heritage Month Events 2022

  • Benito Juarez Community Academy, 2150 S Laflin St., will reenact the Grito de Dolores. The event will include an explanation of the Grito's significance, performances by the Juarez Mariachi, the Folkloric Dance Group, and a Juarez alum who will sing Mexico’s national anthem or Himno Nacional, 7:15 a.m. to 7:40 a.m. Sept. 16. The school also will host a Hispanic Heritage Month celebration at 1 p.m. Oct. 14.
  • At James Shields Elementary, 4250 S. Rockwell St., students will parade around the school with banners, flags and signs identifying their Latino background. 2:30 p.m. -3 p.m. Sept. 16.
  • Franz Peter Schubert Elementary School, 2727 N. Long Ave., hosts craft-making activities, games and live dance performance, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Sept. 22.
  • John Palmer Elementary School, 5051 N. Kenneth Ave., holds a community event with dance lessons, face painting, arts and crafts, a pinata, food and soccer matches, from 3 to 4 p.m. Sept. 30.
  • Bernhard Moos Elementary School, 1711 N. California Ave., will host a Día de Los Muertos or the Day of the Dead community event with music, dancing, arts and crafts and multiple ofrendas honoring those who have passed away, 5 to 6 p.m. October 6.
  • The Air Force Academy High School, 3630 S. Wells St, invites the community to its LatinX Heritage Celebration which will feature student performances, from 6 to 7 p.m. Oct. 13.
  • The Saucedo Scholastic Academy in Little Village, 2850 W. 24th Blvd., will hold its 3rd annual Día de Los Muertos Assembly when students will honor their loved ones through poetry, dance and other activities, at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 28.