Monday night, Cortez Middle School students, parents and teachers celebrated Hispanic heritage by showcasing student artwork and projects related to Latin American history and culture.
The event was organized by CMS teachers Lissa Lycan, Katherine Freeman, Jess Blpoise and Lisa Baer. The event coincided with the final day of Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States.
“Hispanic Heritage Night is a chance to celebrate the amazing cultural diversity we have in our community and our schools,” Lycan said in a statement.
According to Lycan, each CMS teacher did a lesson on Hispanic heritage the week before, and classes created crafts that were displayed during the event.
CMS students served food made by eighth-grade CMS students in Melinda Martinez’s family consumer science class. Dishes included gallo pinto, a rice dish with beans, salsa and herbs. One parent volunteer brought a tres leches cake that was served at the event.
Paintings created by students in Catelyn Engelhart’s sixth-grade art class were among the works displayed at the event. The paintings were made in the likeness of a traditional Mexican style painted on amate, a paper material produced from fibers of fig tree bark.
Amate is the Mesoamerican parallel of China and Egypt’s rice and papyrus, each being the respective region’s earliest forms of paper. Amate’s popularity waned in the 16th century during the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, when the Spanish banned its use because of its connection to indigenous religion.
Eighth-graders in Michael McMillian’s agriculture class collaborated on a mural and informational poster that explored “how migrant farmworker rights changed or stayed the same since the 1960s.” The poster and mural were each displayed at the event.
The poster explored the work of Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez, American labor leaders and civil rights activists who together co-founded the National Farmworkers Association. The organization is now known as the United Farm Workers Union and is the premier labor union for American farmworkers.
Hispanic Heritage Night was headlined with a showing of “Coco,” a 2017 Pixar film that follows a 12-year-old boy named Miguel who is accidentally transported to the Land of the Dead, the movie’s imagined destination of deceased souls in tribute to the Mexican celebration of Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead).