Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools hosted a National Hispanic Heritage Month kickoff event on Sept. 14 at Culbreth Middle School that featured folk dance performances, cuisine from different Hispanic cultures, an information fair and a Zumba class.
National Hispanic Heritage Month runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 and is a federally recognized celebration of Hispanic and Latin American people’s contributions to American culture and history. Sept. 15 was chosen as the start date for this celebration because it coincides with the independence of several Latin American countries.
Lucas Paulsen, the principal of Culbreth Middle, said this year’s kickoff was the first of its kind for the district.
“Hispanic Heritage Month has been a celebration that we’ve done nationally for a long time, but this year we’ve finally been able to get it together to celebrate our Hispanic cultures here at Culbreth and the community,” Paulsen said.
Tracey Lockhart, the assistant principal of Culbreth Middle, said the Hispanic Heritage Month kickoff represents a renewed effort to celebrate the CHCCS community’s cultural diversity and multilingual initiatives.
Lockhart also said there is a large proportion of students enrolled in Culbreth’s Spanish-English dual language program. Culbreth is one of two CHCCS middle schools that has a dual language curriculum, along with McDougle Middle School. CHCCS offers dual-language Spanish-English and Mandarin-English programs at multiple elementary and middle schools across the district.
According to the district website, the dual language program provides students an opportunity to participate in an enriched educational model, which immerses them in two languages and two cultures from kindergarten through eighth grade.
Cora Dooling, a sixth grader at Culbreth who is enrolled in the school's dual-language program, said she thought the kickoff was intended to showcase the school’s Spanish-speaking community.
She said that she and a friend who was also at the event began taking Spanish at Frank Porter Graham Elementary School, which also offers a dual-language program, and already have a foundation in the language from their upbringing.