Kids from Ecuador and Turkey sang “Mi Caballito Blanco,” or “My Little White Horse,” a traditional song of Chile, taught to them by their teacher, an Argentinian. Meanwhile a newcomer eighth-grader from Guinea, in Africa, choreographed her Latino friends dancing to Beyonce’s “Mueve Tu Cuerpo.” Make that “Move Your Body.”
Talk about cross cultural experiences! Many of the 20 Hispanic and 17 non-Hispanic nationalities represented at the Fair Haven School participated Friday in a festive celebration of Latino culture, making the fifth annual Hispanic Heritage Celebration a truly international affair.
Fair Haven School’s population has become even more diverse over recent years since the school took over the under-construction East Rock Magnet’s role of the go-to institution for new immigrants from around the world coming to the Elm City.
“We are the welcoming site,” said Principal Margaret-Mary Gethings.
A culminating event of Hispanic Heritage month, the tour through folks songs and dance moves of cumbia, regeaton, hip hop, along with terpsichorean visions of the future, drew 350 admiring parents, family, and friends to the Grand Avenue school’s spacious auditorium Friday afternoon.
The seventh and eighth-graders who performed a hip hop version of Beyonce in Spanish put in at least 16 hours of rehearsal for their routine, they said. The spirited performance elicited enthusiastic applause from the crowd.
Naomy Vazquez said that participating in this, her third Hispanic Heritage Month dance, has confirmed her in feeling she wants to become a dancer.
“These are the events that empower students and they will remember for the rest of their lives,” said Michael Soares, a ten-year city teacher who coordinated the celebration.
The kids performed their routines on a stage festooned with the flags of 20 Spanish-speaking nations. Stage right were kid-made posters of famous Hispanics like novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez from Colombia and U.S. labor leader Delores Huerta.
Stage right were images of future famous Latinos who just happen now to be among the 705 students at the Fair Haven School: Jacob Gonzalez, who wants to be a doctor and Yadell Soto, a singer.
In back of the auditorium stood David Greco. This year, as in the previous four past, his Arte, Inc gave a $500 grant to the school for props and costumes. He was struck and pleased this year not only by the joy and fun of the performances but a first-time focus on promoting the professions.
“Kids tell us they want to be a mechanic, we tell them: own the garage,” he said.