LINCOLNTON – There was a fiesta at the Lincolnton campus of Lincoln Charter School on Saturday to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, “La Fiesta.” The event was organized by Lincoln Charter School Outreach Consultant Carl Lykes.
“We wanted to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month which runs from September 15 through October 15, but we also wanted to be more intentional about celebrating the cultures of our school,” he said. “In looking at the demographic data of our school, in 2016, our student body had approximately 9% Hispanic students. In 2022, it’s 20% so the increase in that is really something that was worth celebrating.”
The school wanted to offer their Hispanic students more opportunities for networking, Lykes added, so they could serve organizations within their community like the Latin American Coalition and Latin American Chamber of Commerce or the Immigration Hospitality Center in Lincolnton.
“We wanted a better way to advocate for some of our blind spots as an organization,” he said. “It’s one thing to have a party, but it’s another to bring people together of a culture that’s outside of yours so it both gives the entertainment and the value of education.”
In preparation for the event, Lykes reached out to the school’s Spanish teachers who were doing studies on different Hispanic countries.
One of those teachers, Libby Blanco who teaches middle school Spanish said that it was a fun event which blended the different Hispano-American cultures.
“The students were learning, enjoying, dancing and tasting some delicious authentic cuisine from all the countries represented,” she said. “Hispanic Heritage Month was celebrated and diversity was not only encouraged but respected. Events like this allow us not only to learn about cultural differences, but similarities among the nations. We all have fun traditions that need to be shared, events like ‘La Fiesta’ help to cultivate a desire to learn about the history, culture and the Hispanic traditions within our own culture. I hope this becomes an annual event where all the flavors of the Hispanic community get blended into a delectable treat and our students learn more about Hispanic culture.”
There was a dance party parade where the students represented the different countries they were studying and spotlighted dances that are unique to Latin American culture.
“We made sure that all of our music was in Spanish and the menus and food was in Spanish,” he said. “Even some of our games were in Spanish. It was a way for us to celebrate and empower our Spanish-speaking students and to bring people together to have a good time. Some of our Hispanic students said that it felt just like home, and they enjoyed being able to speak in their native language and not feel like a minority.”
Yesica Robles, the middle school/high school receptionist at the Lincolnton campus said that it was a “day to remember.”
“Growing up in Lincolnton l never saw or had the opportunity to celebrate my culture,” she said. “This event brought everyone together. We got to share a little bit of Latin America here at Lincoln Charter School. It really felt like l was back at my hometown.”