Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM), from September 15–October 15, is celebrated in myriad ways at Sierra Canyon.
What started as a week in 1968 to honor the diverse cultures composing Hispanic heritage in the United States became ratified as a month in 1988. The start date of September 15 was chosen as it marks the Independence Day of several different Hispanic countries. This week, we will highlight how the Lower Campus is celebrating HHM. Next week, we will feature the Upper Campus.
Students learn all about Hispanic countries while singing the song Los Paisas Hablan Espanol in Ms. Zurek’s classroom, something that has become a tradition in Spanish classes. In addition, she employs many ways to commemorate this month. Those students with Hispanic heritage have had opportunities to share what makes their culture and traditions meaningful to them. They have also partnered with fellow students to explore different facets of HHM by making festive and informative posters for their classrooms. Older students are also doing research projects about Hispanic individuals who have made or are making important contributions to our country and the world in sports, art, technology, science, and other fields.
Ms. Cox has also been highlighting this ongoing event with different art projects whose media and inspiration reflect the diversity of Hispanic heritage. Students in 6th Grade learned about Mexican tin art, hojalata, from Mexico; in 2nd Grade, students designed landscape collages inspired by Chilean arpilleras (tapestries); 5th Grade students studied alebrijes, a celebration of Mexican folk-art sculptures; and the 4th Grade enjoyed a project on papal amate (bark paper) which was created by the Otomi people of Central Mexico. The 1st and 3rd Grade classes are looking forward to two Dia de Las Muertos projects on the significance of cempasúchil (marigolds) and calaveras (skeletons), creating their own representations of the holiday.
In Creative Movement, Ms. Steinhart has incorporated mindfulness and mindset exercises from the Toltec people in Central Mexico, framed by Don Miguel Ruiz’s teachings in The Four Elements. She is also interweaving lessons from a Costa Rican community regarding Pacha Mamma (Mother Earth) and the importance of respecting her. In Music, Ms. Deutsch is teaching lessons inspired by the Hispanic composer Astor Piazolla and exposing students to the mariachi tradition.
In morning meetings and classrooms throughout the grade levels, students have had and will have the opportunity to explore different parts of Hispanic culture, including historical figures and events. For example, with our youngest students, Pre-Kindergarten students will learn how to make tortillas from scratch as their teachers read Round as a Tortilla to them, and enjoy creative centers of dance, making maracas, and other Hispanic crafts. Kindergarten students have enjoyed learning about and performing the Mexican hat dance. Finally, the 6th Grade is about to begin a substantive unit on the book Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan, some of whose main characters are Hispanic.
Honoring our Hispanic community and its heritage in all its diversity continues to be an important tradition at Sierra Canyon and a profound privilege for all our students.
Sierra Canyon School is a private, independent, non-sectarian, co-educational, college preparatory school for students in grades Pre-Kindergarten through 12 located in Chatsworth, California. The highly cosmopolitan campus community is reflective of the Greater Los Angeles area and the world at large. Students are empowered to realize their greatest creative, ethical, intellectual and physical promise through small class sizes, a diverse student-teacher culture and a family-like environment.