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Thunder Ridge Fiesta Latina

Profe Evans dancing with studentThunder Ridge Middle School’s Spanish club and Sol y Estrella club celebrated their third annual Fiesta Latina on April 27. While the group was hoping to attract 200 people, and planned for 300 people, over 400 people from the greater community attended the Fiesta. 

The Fiesta was organized by over 30 club members beginning as early as October. 

“They put in countless, selfless hours,” said Spanish teacher, Keily Evans. “Throughout the last month they were coming in every morning and afternoon to help.” 

“We did months of preparing and specific planning to create a smooth system,” said Santiago Leyba. “I wanted to learn more about my native culture and wanted to help with the Fiesta. I hope everyone has fun and is entertained.”

Santiago is a part of both the Spanish club and Sol y Estrellas. The Spanish club is a group open to all students who want to learn more about Spanish-speaking cultures, and the Sol y Estrellas club students selling flower pot crafts is a community for Latino students to share about the duality of their identities.  

“It's a space where you feel really comfortable,” said Ari Rameriz. “We organized Fiesta because we wanted to show our culture. Decorating and showing our creative side has been one of the best parts. I hope people get that all cultures are fun.“

“These clubs have given these kids a place to belong,” said Evans. “As we were putting this together, there were lots of conversations about students and their culture. Students were able to see beyond biases and become friends with people they were not friends with before. And we became our own little community that was going to work together to put this event on.”

woman holding paper machete flower frameIn preparation for the event, students made poster boards for each country with facts, statistics and notes about the different cultures. Additionally, they made several crafts, organized games, advertised the event and much more. 

“When planning, one of the conversations we had was about celebrating our cultures and being proud of our cultures and the different languages we speak, and show that,” Evans said. “We put up the flags of the Central and South American countries and throughout the event I would see the Latino students pointing up to them and showing people ‘hey that's our flag.’”

The clubs also received help from the greater community including donations, free food and music. The donors and food vendors included La Tienda, Tacos La Morenita, Pupusas Paradise and Parra Construction LLC. The band, The 303, is a musical group from Kent Denver School that specializes in Latin American music. 

Gary Keppy, the father of Spanish club member Mackenzie, said “Our community needs to be little girl playing fishing game connected and to learn more of the culture. It makes our community richer. It's wonderful and  I'm just so happy that we’re able to come together for this opportunity. It makes my heart full of joy.”

“It’s been an honor for me to work with these students,” said Evans. “I have seen a lot of growth within the kids: being considerate of others and putting others first, so many organizational skills, and how to have a vision.”