PAA Students Celebrate Hispanic Heritage

January 12, 2019 | Education | Liesl Vistaunet

Students enrolled in Spanish classes at Oregon’s Portland Adventist Academy (PAA) celebrated Hispanic Heritage and Cultures Month (mid-September through mid-October) through events, contests and special cultural experiences supported by the school’s chapter of the national Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica (SHH), an honor society for students learning Spanish.

The festivities began with El Grito Día de la Independencia, the holiday to celebrate Mexico’s independence from Spain. Spanish class students discussed Mexico’s history and were treated to traditional sweet breads by PAA Spanish teacher Rita Barrett who is known as “Profe” by her students.

Also on El Grito Día de la Independencia, the SHH and the art and language departments announced a contest in which students would design original posters with the theme “Beyond Burritos” to help fellow students to discover the great variety of Latin American foods. Freshman Mikayla Neely won the contest and received “Chef Stef Bucks” (coupons for free lunches at the cafeteria) as well as a basket full of candy from Mexico.

PAA’s “Chef Stef” —  Stephanie Torgerson Gimse — further supported the effort to help others understand culture through food by planning a month of daily lunches featuring foods from Latin American countries. “If you want to know a culture, you need to know how and what they celebrate,” says Torgerson Gimse. “Food is always a part of celebrations.”

PAA Spanish classes also celebrated Día de la Raza (Day of the Race), which is the celebration of the many Latin American countries’ heritages, ethnicity and cultural influences. Students made and sampled Mexican and Spanish tortillas with help from parent and former student volunteers. Students also made birthday cards for Profe, who was coincidentally born on Dia de la Raza.

The festivities wrapped up with the SSH initiation lunch to celebrate new inductees. The SSH members dined on Mexican “sopes” made by Profe.

“The SSH has reached a milestone this school year,” says Profe Barrett. “We have 10 new members to add to the six seniors who joined last year. We will have 11 students graduating with red SHH honor cords this school year. That is a pretty big chunk of the senior class and our highest number of graduates in a school year yet.”

At PAA, students can take up to four years of Spanish. Many of these students go on to pass CLEP tests and are able to skip multiple levels of college language classes — saving them time and money and progressing them further into their required college credits.

Read more on PAA's website