Liberty Elementary School students, teachers and staff clapped and moved to a Latin beat Friday during the school’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebration.
Principal Chris Anderson, Liberty County Board of Education Chair Lily Baker, Board of Education Members Verdell Jones and Carol Guyett, and other guests enjoyed various Latin cuisine brought in by parents prior to a performance of dance, song and recognition of Hispanic Americans who made great achievements in their respective fields. The program was organized by the Hispanic Heritage Committee, consisting of chair Sheina Medina and co-chair Yazmin Gonzalez.
A poster on the school’s cafeteria wall explained the reason for the month-long celebration, which is observed nationally from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15. This period is when many Latin American countries celebrate their independence. Hispanic Heritage Month was established in 1989, as an opportunity to acknowledge the diverse Hispanic cultures with the United States.
Jones, who represents district 1 on the school board, was program facilitator. She announced the performers before they came on stage.
Student Jeremiah Harris offered a welcome. Students Ruby Glover, Alexus Jamison and Maleena Laurienzo recited a poem. Each girl represented places heavily influenced by Hispanics and their culture: Africa, Spain and the Caribbean. Other LES 5th graders were the show’s lively dancers and speakers. They included: Amari Bines, Carson Carter, Dasia Gordon, David Fletcher, Emoni Golden, Faeren Mattus, Jaden Floyed, Jameson Lee, Lawrance Roberts, Maci Dean, Mevaeh Reichle, Payton Carmichael, Tatiana Martin and Trayven Sharp.
Fourth grader Camila Medina sang a song from the Disney movie “Moana” that was written by Puerto Rican American composer Lin-Manuel Miranda. LES parent Maria Morales, a native of Spain, performed an elegant Flamenco dance. Other students offered portraits of Hispanic “heroes” including entertainers Rita Moreno and Lin-Manuel Miranda, Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor, Major League baseball player and Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente, and NASA astronauts Jose Moreno Hernandez and Joseph Acaba.
Principal Anderson closed out the celebration with remarks about the school and community’s diversity, which is celebrated every day.