By CHERIL VERNON
The Palestine High School Spanish Club hosted a community-wide National Hispanic Heritage Month celebration Tuesday at the PHS school cafeteria featuring live music, folk dance performances, Mexican food and games.
“I think everybody had a really good time eating the food and watching the performers, especially the dancers,” PHS Spanish Club adviser Luis Giron told the Herald-Press Tuesday. “I was happy to see everyone that showed up and supported the event.”
The event was held to commemorate the 25th anniversary of when Ronald Reagan signed National Hispanic Heritage Month into law in 1988. This was to extend Lyndon B. Johnson’s signing in 1968 from a week to a whole month. The month runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.
“This starts as many people celebrate Mexican independence from Spain as well as independence for Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and El Salvador, where I am originally from,” Giron said. “It ends in October which is around the time that Christopher Columbus discovered America. The celebration is to give importance to Hispanic American contributions through out the years.”
Folk dancers of all ages performed during the evening wearing the typical Mexican folk dance attire — the girls and women in peasant blouses with the long ruffled and tiered skirts — all trimmed in colorful ribbons — and the boys and men in the typical Mariachi costumes. The dancers were led by Tony and Veronica Arandula from Sacred Heart Catholic Church.
Mariachi singer Adelio Sardinas, who goes by the stage name El Faraon de Guamajuato, also sang for the audience. William Tosta “DJ Max” provided music. At the end of the night, children were able to break open a piñata for candy.
The celebration was an opportunity to celebrate diversity in the United States, Giron said.
“It’s a chance to showcase Hispanic American achievement and contributions in America. We’d like to remember people like Cesar Chavez, the farm workers’ union rights activist and founder who also coined the term ‘Si Se Puede’ or loosely translated into English as ‘Yes We Can.’ He was a great example of Hispanic perseverance and an example to all Americans that we must fight for justice,” Giron said.
The event also honored the memory of Enrique Camarena, the Drug Enforcement Agency agent who was slain in the war against drugs, for whom, the Red Ribbon Week campaign started; Tejano music star Selena and others.
“I hope that the parents and family members who came to the event leave feeling great about the diversity at our school and with the idea in mind that we can all work together for a brighter future,” Giron said. “I also hope that those who came out were entertained, enlightened, fed, and educated a little more about how diverse and wonderful our community really is and how awesome our kids are.”
Giron thanked the Spanish Club students for their work in putting the event together.
“I love the fact that the kids in the Spanish Club were so helpful in getting everything together. They did their very best,” Giron said.
PHS freshman Kadley Harmon read his class project to the audience Tuesday, reading a poem in Spanish that combined the colors and months of the year.
“That was one of the proudest moments for me,” Giron said, noting the student’s achievement.
Proceeds from the event benefit the Spanish Club to go toward educational trips and T-shirts.
Future plans for the Spanish Club include participating in the Cinco de Mayo celebration next year in conjunction with Washington Early Childhood Learning Center and various fund-raisers.