Red Bank Charter School marked Hispanic Heritage Month with a cultural celebration on that included Latino music, dancing and cuisine.
The celebration on Saturday, Oct. 15 was part of the school’s curriculum to expose their students to global cultures and recognize the diversity of the diverse student body.
“We are expanding content knowledge, which contributes to student growth and achievement,” said Meredith Pennotti, the principal of Red Bank Academy. “Red Bank Charter School is vested in exposing all children to learning beyond the classroom. It’s really learning at its best.”
Meg Walsh, whose daughter is a first grader at the school, said the event reinforces what is learned in the classroom.
“Sharing and exchanging celebrations like this is really awesome,” Walsh said. “I'm very happy here as a parent, as is my husband, who's on the CCO here. It's a very caring and nurturing community.”
Cherie Delgado, a Spanish teacher at Red Bank Charter School, said it’s important to expose all children to a variety of cultures. It makes sense to learn about Latino cultures because New Jersey has a large and growing population of immigrants from Latin America. Red Bank Charter School, too, has a growing population of students from Spanish-speaking countries, especially Mexico, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras.
“These children have learned how to code-switch. They come to school and speak English, and go home and speak Spanish,” Delgado said. “Some children will even respond in English when parents or grandparents ask questions in Spanish.
Delgado said the school offers a literacy classes for the parents who speak Spanish.
“It's a wonderful experience for them – some of them have been with me for four years or more,” Delgado said, adding that one of her students even got accepted to Brookdale Community College. “The positive impact on the lives of so many of these parents and students is measurable.”
During Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, students study the Latino world as well as Latinos who have made an impact on our country's history.
More than 100 family parents and students attended Saturday’s celebration. The school’s Latino parents cooked the entire buffet dinner, which consisted of chicken molé, tamales, masa arena, rice and beans, and other treats. One parent contributed a tent, tables and chairs, which allowed the program to be expanded so more families could attend.
A Mariachi singer in full costume sang “¡Viva Mexico!” (a famous patriotic Mexican song) to a enthusiastic crowd. Later in the evening, a group of girls dressed in traditional Mexican costumes performed a Mexican folk ballet in traditional Mexican costumes. A non-Latino student in an Argentine costume, who studies tap-dance, gave a short Tango performance.
“Our families take such pride in their traditions,” Pennotti said. “The generosity of our families allowed our students to have this incredible opportunity for our children to learn and grow together as one charter family.”