National Hispanic Heritage Month Celebrated with Displays and Cultural Foods

Rock Ridge celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month, spanning from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, by highlighting some cultural foods and decorating display cases.


Rodrigue Gomado

A display in the foreign language hallway celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month. Included in the display were books related to Hispanic heritage as well as examples of Hispanic foods and prominent figures accompanying descriptions. The library also celebrated the occasion by displaying books and a decorated window that said “leer,” which translates to “to read” in Spanish.

National Hispanic Heritage Month kicked off on Wednesday, Sep. 15 and wrapped up Friday, Oct. 15. This month is a time to celebrate the cultures of those of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, according to the United States Census Bureau

Rock Ridge celebrated with a hallway display case and a decorated window in the library. Both included facts about historical figures and books centered around hispanic events, characters, and authors. Rock Ridge also provided students with empanadas, a stuffed and fried pastry from Spain, as an option for school lunch. 

This month-long celebration was first observed in 1968 by President Lyndon Johnson as “Hispanic Heritage Week” and was enacted into law on Aug. 17, 1988 through Public Law 100-402, according to the United States Census Bureau.  Sept. 15 — the starting date of National Hispanic Heritage Month — was chosen because it is the anniversary of Latin American independence for countries such as Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. 

The umbrella term “Hispanic” includes many rich cultures from various countries across the globe. These cultures are embodied by many students in Loudoun County Public Schools and at Rock Ridge itself. According to U.S. News, 17.9% of Loudoun County students are Hispanic or Latino.  

Senior Carolina Perez is one of these students who celebrates her Hispanic culture. 

 “We celebrate [Three Kings Day] on January 6. Instead of celebrating Jesus’ birthday, we celebrate the three kings that came to give him gifts,” Perez said. 

Three Kings’ Day, also known as the Epiphany, is celebrated at the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Though this holiday is celebrated by many countries, it is most prevalent in Spain and Latin American countries. The event is usually marked by parades, presents, festivals, and Three Kings’ Bread.  

 “It’s like a second Christmas for us,” Perez said. 

For Rock Ridge’s own celebration, around the school there were two displays for National Heritage Month and hispanic food was served in the cafeteria, but some said that it wasn’t enough.

“I have not seen anything,” Perez said. “I think there should be more…they should talk about it more.” 

Perez’s concerns were also voiced by her peers. “I didn’t [know it was National Hispanic Heritage Month],” freshman Chris Hispatez said. “I think that there should be posters around [the school] and they should talk about it more in the announcements; they could have fun facts about it in the announcements.” 

Spanish books were also offered in the library along with a sign reading “leer,” which is the verb “to read” in Spanish, on one of the library’s windows. Books in the collection included Barely Missing Everything and Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood. 

“I think there could be a little bit more done,” junior Arria Budram-Dawkins said. Along with Hispatez’s idea of greater advertisement, Budram-Dawkins suggests that in future celebrations, there should be more events that celebrate diverse Hispanic foods in school lunches.

“I think [culturally-themed meals] should be [offered] every week or every other day. We should have a certain, specific dish that would be important to [Hispanic] culture,” Budram-Dawkins said. 

These suggestions have been echoed by others in the community and are being addressed, as the LCPS dedicated a week to serving food from other countries during the week of Oct. 12 to 15. 

Along with Hispanic Heritage Month, there are many other important days in Hispanic culture, including Peru Independence day and Dia de los Muertos, also known as the Day of the Dead, celebrated on July 28 and May 5 respectively. 

Senior Megan Casas is one of the many students at Rock Ridge who are of hispanic descent, specifically Peurvian. “Both my parents are from Lima, which is the capital [of Peru], but they came to the U.S. in 2000. I was born in 2004 in Missouri,” Casas said.  

Casas celebrates Peru’s independence day with her family. On July 28, 1821 Peru declared independence from Spain, after being under Spanish rule for 295 years, although independence wasn’t formally achieved until 1824. 

In Peru, this day is celebrated over two days, called Fiestas Patrias, that includes concerts, fairs, parties, and parades, for Peurvians to show their love all across the country. However, in America, Peurvians show their love differently, such as going out to eat. Casas and her family usually dine at the Pervian restaurant El Estribo. “Usually the whole restaurant is covered in Peurvian flags and we just eat and talk with everyone there and celebrate,” Casas said. “There was a lot of music, a lot of food, and a lot of people.”

Hispanic heritage encompasses a large variety of different diverse cultures from multiple countries that are celebrated during National Hispanic Heritage Month. “I’m just really proud of [my culture]… It makes me feel like I’m a part of something,” Casas said.