Latino cultures celebrated at Washington Elementary
By Marcus Atkinson for La Prensa
Oct. 21, 2011: Washington Elementary school in Lorain hosted its first Latino culture presentation in collaboration with the Museum of Hispanic and Latino Cultures.
The presentation featured Lorain city school students singing and dancing to a variety of Latino music. The United States pledge of allegiance was recited in both English and Spanish, the Puerto Rican national anthem was sung, as well as a rendition of the Mexican hat dance.
Guillermo Arriaga, president of the Museum of Hispanic and Latino Cultures said it is important for parents to show who they are, and for children to understand where they came from.
“We need to introduce our culture and keep our culture alive, said Arriaga. “This museum is not mine, it is not the boards, it belongs to the city of Lorain.”
The mobile museum has been traveling through Ohio the past month, from Fremont to Akron and in Lorain as well. Washington Elementary showed interests in the museum through its principal, Kathy Ortiz.
“I think it’s important that we celebrate the cultural diversity that we have in the city of Lorain. May of our students come from diverse backgrounds like Guatemala and Puerto Rico,” said Ms. Ortiz. “I think it’s important that we learn and celebrate each others successes and understand each others cultures.”
Along with the Puerto Rican national anthem and Mexican hat dance, performed by Washington School students, Pepe Rivera, a local musician and artist, recited a “poesia” or poem called, “Nostalgia de Virgilio Davila” and a traditional folk dance was performed by Kerilian Montañez, Ayesia Montañez, Yoaneska Ortega, and Yanily Ortega, conducted by María Santiago.
The crowd of parents, students, and teachers were amazed by the performers’ discipline and grasp of the dancing.
“They did such a good job,” said one parent. “They really knew what they were doing.”
Among the “wows” and applauds, the student performers shared a culture the US Census now says represents over one – fourth of Lorain’s population—the Latino cultures.
As principal of Washington Elementary, Ortiz feels it is important “to unite these communities, to unite the students, and to unite the staff so that we can celebrate each others’ diversity.”