- Cherry Creek School District No. 5
Hispanic Heritage Month is a time of exploration at Grandview High School
Hispanic Heritage Month was a time of discovery for students and staff members at Grandview High School. Not only did they explore the complexities of the Hispanic culture, they were also encouraged to explore their own.
“The complicated nature of the Hispanic, Latinx and Chicanx identities can really teach all of us, whether or not we identify that way, a little bit about how to ask questions and negotiate and express, on our own terms, our own identities,” said Grandview Spanish teacher Miguel Ortega. “Because we all come from fairly complicated backgrounds at this point in human history.”
That is certainly true of the Hispanic culture, which encompasses rich and diverse groups of peoples including Hispanic, defined as relating to Spain or to Spanish-speaking countries, Latino or Latina, defined as relating to people of Latin American origin, and Chicano or Chicana, defined as people of Mexican descent born in the United States.
National Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated each year from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, recognizes the contributions and influence of Hispanic Americans to the history, culture and achievements of the United States.
“I think it’s important to raise awareness,” said Ortega, who helped organize Grandview’s Hispanic Heritage Month activities, with support from the school’s PASS (Partnership for Academically Successful Students) Committee.
Those activities included a virtual speaker series, featuring:
- Luis Torres, a professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver, who teaches a concurrent enrollment Chicano/a Studies course for Cherry Creek Schools. He shared his life experiences as a Chicano male and helped students deepen their understanding of Hispanic, Latinx and Chicanx culture.
- Ana Gomez-Bravo, a professor of Spanish at the University of Washington in Seattle. She talked about her recently published a book on food and cultures throughout the Spanish-speaking world from medieval Spain to modern Latin America.
- Robert Garcia, a Denver tag artist who specializes in wall art or public art. He talked about how the artistic merit of tag art and the Mexican tradition of making murals.
- Armando Geneyro, a Denver photographer who lives on Denver’s west side, the heart of Denver’s Chicano community, where he has long documented Denver’s Chicano and low-rider culture.
In addition, Grandview hosted a student creative challenge, where students were invited to submit their own work celebrating Hispanic identity and pride in the medium of their choice, from drawing, painting and sculpture to poetry, prose, video and music.
“When we think about programming for any heritage month, we want to give something to the kids, but we don’t always think about hearing from the students,” Ortega explained. “This is our first foray into trying to listen to our students and give them space to use their voice.”
“I’m hoping our students take some of the lessons or messages from our speakers and activities and start to look at their own identities and backgrounds,” he said.