As we are growing in our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusiveness, and belonging; we recognize that it's important to go beyond acknowledging just musical contributions or other happy artforms of diverse communities we are learning more about. Of more importance, we must have programming that reflects education around historical problems, hardships, and oppressions.
Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15; celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. West End Day School saw this as an added opportunity to recognize the Latinx community. These celebrations should be ongoing, but this month encouraged us to especially focus on this community and their significant contributions.
So what did we do?
Teachers taught about the significance of September 15, as it is the anniversary of independence from Spain for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Lessons focused on discussions around what it means to be Hispanic and what languages are spoken by this community. Classes also highlighted famous Hispanic Americans from diverse backgrounds, such as Astronaur Ellen Ochoa and activist Joan Baez. Social Studies incorporated teaching about the Ancient Civilizations of Mesoamerica/Central America, which is where the first people in North America created complex societies and heavily influenced cultures in that region today!
Hispanic Heritage Month also inspired our teachers to introduce Mexican folk art and its appreciation of variety and diversity. Our students made their own Sol: sun-themed figures adorned with vibrant colors and geometric shapes. You can make your own at home with tin foil, a paper plate, sharpies, and a little creativity!
Our Art Specialist taught lessons about Guna [the Kuna], a group of Indigenous people from Panama and Columbia. He used Mola, a hand-made textile that forms part of the traditional women's clothing of the indigenous Guna people, as the inspiration for these lessons. Students looked at examples of woven art and made their own versions with drawing materials and watercolor.
We also explored the Nazca Lines in southern Peru- a group of pre-Columbian geoglyphs etched into desert sands. We talked about their purpose and what they represented. As a follow up, students created their own Nazca Lines out of sand, glue, paint, and paintbrushes. Take a look for yourself!
We look forward to continuing our integration of multicultural learning into our everyday curriculum at WEDS and ensuring that our students feel seen, heard, and represented.