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Hispanic heritage entertain, educates
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Yazmin Gonzalez, a paraprofessional at Liberty Elementary School, dances on stage during a break between shows. Gonzalez, a Puerto Rico native said she loves to share her culture with students. - photo by Photo by Seraine Page
The sound of maracas and the low beat of bongo drums punctuated students’ animated conversations Friday at Liberty Elementary as children and teachers poured into the cafeteria to watch a performance in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month.
Yazmin Gonzalez, a paraprofessional at LES, coordinated the event for the third consecutive year to educate students on Hispanic culture.
“We have a diversity of races here,” said Gonzalez, which is why she thinks the celebration is important.  
The paraprofessional, a Puerto Rico native, said she is grateful that Principal Chris Anderson allows her to stage the show.
“They are experiencing culture and I am exposing them to a different culture,” she said.
According to the Library of Congress website, Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 is officially recognized as National Hispanic Heritage month.
WTOC news anchor Dawn Baker emceed the program and introduced the dancers as they swirled onto the stage, each representing a different country.
“Miss Columbia, Miss Panama, Miss Cuba, Miss Puerto Rico, Miss Mexico and Miss Spain!” Baker proclaimed into the microphone as the audience clapped and cheered.
The hour-long program represented the six different countries through the dancers in brightly colored attire and choreographed routines.
The 11 dancers, all of Puerto Rican descent, are members of the local Hispanic Heritage Club and bought each of the outfits from its respective country that the dancers were representing.
“We don’t want to disrespect any cultures,” said Gonzalez of their decision to purchase authentic costumes to properly represent the countries.
Layla Adams, 8, was excited to see all the dances and said she liked everything about the show.
“How they speak is nice,” she said of the Spanish songs that accompanied the dances.
When asked which Spanish-speaking country was her favorite, the third-grader answered right away: “I love Mexico.”
Monica Aviles, vice president of the Hispanic Heritage Club, speaks broken English but is clear from her constant smile that she is pleased with the children’s reaction and member participation.
Gonzalez translated Aviles’ excitement of the event coming together:
“It is very emotional,” Aviles said of the event. “I see the culture come alive, and we love to share our culture.”

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