Four Rivers students celebrate Hispanic, Latinx Heritage Month

  • Four Rivers Charter Public School students perform a dance at the celebration of Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month at the school on Friday evening. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Four Rivers Charter Public School seventh-grader Seneca Smith, right, passes out hors d’oeuvres at the celebration of Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month at the school on Friday evening. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Zevey Steinitz, acting head of school at Four Rivers Charter Public School, takes an hors d’oeuvre from sophomore Liam Black at the celebration of Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month at the school on Friday evening. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Ethnic food being served at the Four Rivers Charter Public School during the celebration of Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month at the school on Friday evening. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Four Rivers Charter Public School students perform a dance at the celebration of Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month at the school on Friday evening. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 10/17/2021 10:09:43 AM

GREENFIELD — Four Rivers Charter Public School students and families celebrated the end of Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month on Friday with an evening of traditional food, music and dancing.

Since Sept. 15, students at Four Rivers have observed Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month by honoring and celebrating the history, cultures and contributions of Americans whose ancestors came from Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

“This is the culminating event of Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month,” said Acting Head of School Zevey Steinitz.

The month began by welcoming guest speaker Raúl D. Gutiérrez, an associate professor of Latinx studies and Spanish at Holyoke Community College, according to Director of Teaching and Learning Alison Rheingold.

Rheingold, who worked alongside Spanish teacher Elizabeth Rodriguez-Salas in organizing programming for the month, said the idea for celebrating Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month emerged from conversations in the group, Faculty for Racial and Social Justice, which has and continues to make concerted efforts to celebrate several different heritage months.

She said the last month was both about celebrating the people who identify as Hispanic or Latinx, and offering those who don’t an opportunity to learn about local empowerment efforts.

“At the deepest level, we hope people understand our school to be an anti-racist school,” Rheingold said.

Friday’s event, which took place in the Four Rivers courtyard, featured appetizers and small plates from Latin America largely donated from local organizations, music by the band Viva Quetzal, and a performance of traditional dancing by a group of seventh-grade students. Banners created by student Crews, or advisory groups, were hung around the courtyard.

Throughout the month, students created artwork, wrote essays and learned about local activism efforts, Rheingold said.

Phin Solodky, 12, said they most enjoyed learning about people and their experiences, and how to be respectful of other cultures. They were most surprised to learn about the discrimination many people still feel.

Another seventh-grader, Penelope Peters, said she not only learned about the Hispanic and Latinx heritage in Spanish class, but also in her English and social studies classes. She said it is important to bring attention to all cultures.

“We should be celebrating every culture,” she said. “A great majority of the U.S. has people that came from (the Hispanic and Latinx) culture, or at least want to learn about it.”

Steinitz said Friday’s event was “really exciting,” particularly given the rarity of in-person events since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s a real opportunity for our community to come together again,” she said.

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne


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