Students lead the way in Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations

Sept. 30, 2022

students at school

Melody Brizuela (right, in white) talks with other members of the Latino Student Council at Prairie High School

Students at Battle Ground and Prairie high schools are recognizing Hispanic Heritage Month with food, clothing and art. Prairie’s Latino Student Union, led by senior Melody Brizuela, organized a field trip to the Latino Youth Leadership event in Vancouver on Oct. 7, as well as a potluck featuring traditional Hispanic dishes on Oct. 14. At Battle Ground High School, students set up displays around the building featuring flags from Latino countries and information on influential leaders in their community.

“For me, it’s just an opportunity to really represent who I am and my culture at this school,” Brizuela said. “Especially since Latinos make up the biggest minority group here at Prairie, it’s important that we’re seen and heard, and that we have a voice too.”

The recognition began in 1968 with Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed a law making the observation a full month each year, from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15. It celebrates the histories, cultures and contributions of Americans who came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, as well as Central and South America. 

Sept. 15 is the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, while Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence on Sept. 16 and 18, respectively.

Brizuela started the Latino Student Union at Prairie in November of last year as a junior. Right away, participation was high with

Ada Limon board

An informational board about current Poet Laureate Ada Limon was created by students at Battle Ground High School

plenty of excitement about the club, she said. With graduation around the corner, she’s hoping to use this year to develop the next generation of leadership.

“The biggest thing right now is giving leadership opportunities to the underclassmen,” Brizuela said. “Setting them up so this club is still a thing for years to come.”

The Latino student group at Battle Ground High School is experiencing their own restart this year after most of the leadership graduated last June. Still, students have decorated parts of hallways with displays on Hispanic culture and icons such as current United States Poet Laureate Ada Limon and Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor. Students in the culinary arts program under chef Gene Fritz are also planning to service traditional Hispanic dishes during a tour by members of the school board on Oct. 14.

“It is important for all of our students to know that they are all valued and appreciated,” said Superintendent Denny Waters. “We are happy to support student-led efforts to recognize the many unique and vibrant cultures throughout our schools. It is an important part of our continued commitment to working better together.”

Prairie High School Principal Susannah Woehr echoed that sentiment in a recent message to families. “Our identity is a fabric that is woven together of the many diverse cultures that call America home,” Woehr wrote. “Our stories and traditions build together to make us the strong, compassionate, creative, innovative, hard-working nation that we are.”

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