Hispanic Heritage Month spotlights York’s vibrant Latin diversity

Hispanic Heritage Month spotlights York’s vibrant Latin diversity

On Friday, Sept. 15, York began its celebration of Latino heritage by embracing the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which honors and embraces the heritage within the Hispanic community. Throughout the month, York portrayed creative and extravagant events by Latinos Unidos, including its flan-eating contest and quinceanera dance.

Latinos Unidos is a cultural club that highlights multiple communities by bringing people to explore their own Latin roots. Oskar Cuevas, co-president of the club, set out to bring newcomers into the club by sharing Latin events throughout the month. 

“Hispanic Heritage Month is a month where we get to reflect on how beautiful our culture is, based on our historic main events that also highlight famous icons, whether that be famous celebrities or important contributors to things like our history,” Cuevas said.

Diane Oliveros-Prymicz and Daniella Oliveros start to decorate the hallways with Hispanic Heritage.

The initial motivation for celebrating Hispanic Heritage month was to open and acknowledge different backgrounds by having others learn from each other, but also allow others to relate on some level. At York the Latino community makes up to 20% in total, making that one of the second highest groups at York. Which is why it’s important to have a community that expands its roots. Cuevas expands cultural diversity within his community by becoming a leader to those who also share the same goal in wanting to promote more hispanic heritage. 

“As a first generation high school student, it’s really important for me to represent my culture, since my parents were never given the chance to represent their culture, because back then there was a lack of representation,” Cuevas said. “I’d like to make that change within my community.” 

Latinos Unidos has never failed to add the bright and warm heritage that brings people together. Latinos Unidos co-president Ashley Gomez, junior, aspires to lead a cultural balance between those who find comfort within celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month and those who would like to highlight different Latino backgrounds. 

“There are many people in the school who have culture and there are many Latinos that come from different backgrounds,” Gomez said. “By showing our culture off during Hispanic Heritage Month, it gives the Latino community a voice in reassurance by giving them the opportunity to become comfortable within a diverse school.”

Hispanic Heritage Month is meant to illuminate those who have felt shadowed within their own recognition, but by doing so it takes a well developed group to reveal their roots. Latinos Unidos embodies all ethnicities to join in on the celebration, by doing so it leads students towards more eventful memories. As a leader Gomez reflects on her progress as co-president, by seeing the impact she has brought towards other students by the lunch activities she has projected so far throughout the month. 

“One of the main things I’m excited about for Hispanic Heritage month is seeing people enjoy themselves throughout the activities we have planned to showcase during lunch,” Gomez said.

Gomez feels as though the joy people feel during the lunchroom activities is a reflection of the hard work put into the events. The sponsors of Latinos Unidos are Nelly Avina, social worker, and Diane Oliveros-Prymicz, school counselor, who honor their Latin roots by involving themselves into promoting their heritage. Oliveros-Prymicz incorporates traditional events during all lunch periods in order to broaden the Latino community’s voice in order to feel comfortable within the school’s diversity. 

Jessica Hurt expresses herself while enjoying a sweet pastry flan cake.

“We kicked off the first week with a flan eating contest, which prompts this main desert in many of our countries,” Oliveros-Prymicz said. “We are planning to have students teach traditional dance party songs and we’ll then play loteria, which is like our Latino bingo. Finishing off the month, we have a quinceanera showcase of the dresses, which is a very big ritual for girls coming of age and we’ll get to show off the dresses by doing a traditional waltz.”

Hispanic Heritage Month is what brings people together into trying new things out of their comfort zone. Oliveros-Prymicz sets a good example of the importance of different diversities, by representing other Latino cultures onto a well recognized platform, in order to feel included during the festivities throughout the month.

“It’s important to show diversity in the school because you can never stop learning,” Oliveros-Prymicz said. “It’s so interesting to see different diverse backgrounds and if we don’t learn about it, how can we help each other out? Which is why it’s important to branch out into different countries’ backgrounds in order to bring a sense of happiness and possibly an understanding within school.”

Oliveros-Prymicz isn’t the only one who tries to portray learning opportunities throughout Hispanic Heritage Month and through Latinos Unidos, but also Avina who is a social worker and also the second sponsor of Latinos Unidos. Avina has grown a sense of comfort within her community by the impact she has brought on others by building a community that brings multiple aspects of culture into the light of recognition. 

“Latinos Unidos is important to me because it’s a place where a lot of students have found a home,” Avina said. “They were able to find their community by having similar thoughts and traditions in their culture. I do believe there are still a lot of students at York who haven’t found that community, and for me Latinos Unidos is a mechanism to invite others to learn and to be proud of who they are.” 

After the Quinceanera performance, Latinos Unidos comes together as a community to celebrate the big accomplishments they had set throughout the month.

Although Hispanic Heritage Month is only for four weeks, Latinos Unidos has always had the pleasure to keep pursuing students to widen their ability into knowing a variety of different cultures. Nobody needs to be Latino in order to understand or celebrate the independence of Latin culture, because at the end of the day in room A216 there’s always a fun community that accepts all ethnicities. Not only has Avina become a mother to 20% of the Latino community, but would like to encourage the same comfort towards other allies. 

 “We do have other students who come from non-Latin descent, so we call them our allies,” Avina said. “I believe it has a lot more to do with creating a culture of welcoming and a culture of inclusivity at York. I do know it’s important because it gives people a home and it even gives me a staff member a home and gives me another reason to come to work and to help give our culture a voice here at York.”

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