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Whitfield Newest Club Kicks of the Year With a Celebration of Dia de los Muertosby Whitney Bryan
The Hispanic Student Association (HSA) celebrated its new club this fall, as well as hosting an assembly presentation on Hispanic Heritage Month and several hands-on activities to commemorate it. The Hispanic Student Association, sponsored by Ms. Ahern and Sr. Casado, is a new club at Whitfield founded by students Mia Schlottmann and Alyssa Gutierrez.
The club’s co-founder, Mia, shares her reasoning behind the club, saying, “There was JSU, BSU, and all this stuff but there just was not something for my people.” She wanted to be represented as a student at Whitfield and wanted students like her to have a club community to be a part of. Mia took action and searched for other possible club leaders, explaining, “I talked to Alyssa in May and over the summer to see if she was interested [in co-starting HSA] and then we talked to Dr. Warbelow and got it started!”
The other co-leader Alyssa shares her similar motivation for starting the club, stating, “I feel like we have been lacking Hispanic representation in Whitfield for a very long time, and so we wanted to create a club where people could come and learn and have fun, and just appreciate all of the aspects of Hispanic culture.”
Ms. Ahern, the sponsor of HSA, is proud of the club's preparations for the presentation on October 17th saying, “The first meeting was just getting to know people and talking about what we would want to do for Hispanic Heritage Month. The next meeting was physically planning what was going to happen during the presentation and the flower and skull activities.” The other club sponsor, Sr. Casado expressed his thoughts on the club, “I like the idea that the students started it, I like the fact that every other Wednesday they really show up,” Casado says, “It is a true student lead club”
The HSA organized and coordinated an assembly to educate and celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. The honorary month runs from September 15th through October 15th. The leaders and members worked to create an educational presentation for the Whitfield community. Ms. Ahern describes the making of the presentation, saying, “The student leaders, Joey, Mia, and Alyssa, came up with the ideas [for the slide presentation] that we thought should be shared.” But it wasn’t only the club leaders but also the members who contributed to the presentation at the assembly. Ms. Ahern continued, “There were a lot of people who wanted to be involved but didn't want to be in front of others. It was kind of a collaborative effort.” The presentation went well, but that wasn’t the end; the club had also planned craft activities for the students to understand and learn about Hispanic culture and traditions.
Throughout the week after the presentation, students engaged in the activities the club planned, like painting Calaveras and making paper flowers. Mia shares, “The activities are going to be to decorate for Dia de los Muertos.” The student's hard work was displayed and used to decorate the ofrenda in the IC for the Day of the Dead. The day is meant to remember and honor lost loved ones. The tradition is to put photos of the deceased on the ofrenda, or offering, and decorate it with anything that is special. Alyssa shares her thoughts on the holiday, “The meaning of Hispanic Heritage Month, in my opinion, is to recognize and appreciate the Hispanic population within America.”
The new club has accomplished so much in its very first year already with the presentations and celebrations, but the regular club meetings never disappoint. Mia recalls, “Last week we did dance. We did all the different types of dance in Hispanic cultures.” The leaders also have ideas for the future; Mia adds, "We were thinking of doing a food meeting!” As fun as it sounds, many people didn’t know what to expect from HSA because it is a new club, but Alyssa simply states, “The purpose of HSA is to educate, inform, and share the culture of Hispanic and Latine people.” An active club member, Roman Angeri, talks about why he likes HSA, “I am a member of it because it educates kids on underrepresented cultures.” It is crucial to educate kids about different cultures and backgrounds to build cultural competence in and outside of the Whitfield community.
As the Hispanic Student Association at Whitfield is still new, the school will continue to give room to the club as it grows. Club leader Alyssa explains, “Whitfield is allowing us to pursue all our endeavors, they let us speak at assembly and put out our club, we are empowered by Whitfield.” The club is open to new members and always encourages new faces to their meetings every other Wednesday at 7:45 in the morning. Mia explains what HSA is really about, she exclaims, “It's just all fun things to give kids the idea of Hispanic culture and give them an insight into what it is and who we are. Because it is open to everyone!”