Hispanic Heritage Month

Written by David Tuffs

Hispanic Heritage Month is a celebration of all realms of Hispanic culture present today and historically in Pacific Grove and California. This 30-day celebration lasts from September 15 to October 15: a month of art competitions, live music, and designer dishes and menus. Pacific Grove High first picked up the tradition nearly ten years ago, back when it only consisted of an art competition between the Spanish classes and the art classes. Since then, Hispanic Heritage Month has spread throughout the entire school campus, with many different classes and clubs participating.

The idea for a National Spanish Heritage month was created in 1968 under Lyndon Johnson by Edward R. Roybal, a Democrat from Los Angeles. However, at that time, the celebration was only a week long. It would take twenty years and three presidents before Hispanic Heritage Week would become a Hispanic Heritage Month under the Reagan presidency in 1988.

So, why September 15? Why not Cinco de Mayo or another popular date? Hispanic Heritage Month commences on September 15 because, in 1821, five Latin American countries declared their independence from Spain: Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. In addition, Mexico, Belize, and Chile all declared independence of their own in the following week.

Back to Pacific Grove. As usual, this year, we have the annual Spanish Art competition, where students from Spanish and Art classes alike can test their artistic chops against their fellow classmates. The winners of this competition are currently being displayed in the Library, and will be there for a few weeks, for anyone interested in seeing the wide spectrum of artistic talent present at PGHS. In addition, the Culinary 2 classes are preparing a menu and a meal based off of a particular artist or painting and presenting it to be judged.

For the first time, the Orchestra is performing a series of Spanish dances and many different clubs (including the Spanish Club and the Gay/Straight Alliance club) have decorated the boards throughout the hallway. This year’s theme is Dia de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead in English, a celebration of remembrance for those who have passed on which is recognized between October 31 and November 2.

So why is it important to celebrate Hispanic Heritage? The United States and California in particular has been heavily influenced by Spain and Latin America throughout its history. Even today, California has a high population of citizens who claim Mexican or Latin American descent. Celebrating other cultures allows us to look at the world through new eyes and it helps us to understand more about our history and discover new things about our culture that we have never experienced before.

Many thanks to Kathy Buller, who gave us information about PGHS’ involvement with Hispanic Heritage and some of the events which we are participating in this year.