Hispanic Heritage Week celebrates Latino culture at Pleasant Grove High

Pixabay+Image.

Pixabay Image.

By Savannah Haile, Pleasant Grove High School

Pleasant Grove High School honored its Latino community from Oct. 10-14 by celebrating a Hispanic Heritage Week during which students dressed to honor their culture, a spirit week event organized by the Latino’s Reaching Goals (LRG) club.

The LRG club meets twice a month to discuss important topics that relate to the Hispanic population on the PGHS campus.

“LRG is a club that unites all Latinos to help share pieces of our culture with the rest of the school,” said 9th grader Leonardo Lopez.

In the beginning of the year, LRG had about 60 students, but that number dwindled to 30 as the school year progressed.

“I would love to reach out to more Latino students, be more inclusive, and have them find some value in it perhaps,” club adviser Mario Mansilla said. “Maybe be able to learn more about Hispanic culture, speak Spanish with friends at school, and explore different facets of it.” 

Leonardo Rodrigo Lopez, a freshman who dressed up for Vaquero Day, was grateful for the opportunity to recognize his own culture on campus.

“It is actually really fun dressing up because it gives me the opportunity to wear something that relates to my culture, and I won’t be bashed for it because it’s a spirit day,” said Lopez.

A recurring issue during  the spirit week was a low level of participation by students. Lopez said a lack of promotion may have been a primary reason. Throughout the week, it was evident that a large portion of the students who dressed up had some relation to LRG.

“I’m in the club so I already knew about it,” Lopez said.

This school year is the first time LRG members wanted to make a big impact on the school.

“We just wanted to make it fun and respectful…it’s the very first year we have done this,” Mansilla said.

In order to motivate students to dress up for the week, some teachers in the Spanish department offered a reward to students who showed their appreciation for Latino culture through their clothing.

“I gave my Spanish classes the offer that if they dress up, then they would get participation (points) for doing so,” said Spanish I and III teacher Erica Ceja.

Not only did students who have Latino ancestry participate in the spirit week, but students with Asian heritage did as well. 

Sophomore Parneet Kaur wore a “suit,” which is a sleeved top that usually consists of different embroidery and silks, for the last day of the spirit week.

“It’s called a suit, and we normally wear it in Punjabi culture in India,” Kaur said. “I actually enjoy celebrating my culture and I feel very different as well as unique wearing it. … I feel like they should have culture day every day.” 

Although students had the opportunity to learn about their peers’ cultures and backgrounds during the spirit week, some might not have felt safe enough to participate.

“I think that maybe (students) were uncomfortable and felt they couldn’t show their own culture,” said sophomore Sawyer Howard, who dressed up in red for one day. “When someone chooses not to dress up, they don’t participate because they think that no one else (will). They decide based on what others are doing.”

Despite the relatively low participation numbers, Hispanic Heritage Week did unite different peoples from different backgrounds and help celebrate the Latino population at PGHS.

“It is not as much participation as we would have wanted,” Mansilla said, “but it’s a good start.”