Why Hispanic Heritage Month?

Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the contributions of those American citizens and residents who can trace their ancestry to predominantly Spanish speaking countries. The celebration starts in September and ends in October. Recognizing the importance of honoring the contributions of a growing minority group, President Lyndon B. Johnson dedicated a week for the celebration in 1968. About 20 years later, President Ronald Reagan extended the celebration to a month.

At the school level, celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month by honoring contributions from the Latino community is important for all of our students. For students who are not Hispanic, these celebrations expand their knowledge of successes by those with differing backgrounds, and thus, improves their respect for those who are different than they are. For minority students, honoring students’ heritage can make a difference between high school graduation and dropping out. Furthermore, presenting contributions from those who are similar in cultural and/or racial backgrounds provides models for students. This is far more effective than providing models who are less relatable. Finally, improving one’s own knowledge of students’ backgrounds and contributions made by their community helps educators make needed connections with minority students (Irvine, 2013).

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