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October 15, 2020

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

National Hispanic Heritage Month, which begins each year on Sept. 15, recognizes and celebrates U.S. Latinos, their culture and their historic contributions to the world. 

During National Hispanic Heritage Month, Notre Dame Middle School Spanish teacher Marisol Aguilar-Fernandez's students put together presentations that demonstrated the historic contributions to the U.S. and world by Hispanic luminaries and figures.

Today, October 15, marks the end of National Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States, a celebration that debuted in 1968 as National Hispanic Heritage Week established by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Johnson's proclamation held that Hispanic traditions and actions had made this country what it was: "that, indeed, there would have been no America without them." 

In 1968, about one in every 25 people in the country was Hispanic. Today, one in every five Americans is now Hispanic, or Latinx. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan expanded the annual observance to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. 

During National Hispanic Heritage Month, the nation celebrates the countless contributions of more than 60 million Hispanic-Americans to our culture and society. Hispanic Americans are the largest minority group in the United States today, and generations of Hispanic Americans have consistently helped make our country strong and prosperous.

At Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, the 30-day period dedicated to Hispanic culture was once again celebrated by students and faculty. Notre Dame Middle School Spanish teacher Marisol Aguilar-Fernandez said her students conducted research projects recently focused on Hispanics and their contributions to the U.S. and the world.

"The project that I do in middle school involves students choosing a famous Hispanic or Latinx character and investigate that person, what was important about them, where he or she was born, etc.," she said. "I also want everything on paper, which means they have to color, cut or print their work and then present to their classmates in Spanish."

Aguilar-Fernandez said it's very important for students of all nationalities to know about this special month as they investigate Hispanic or Latinx people who have done something great in this country or in any country in the world. 

"The kids presented on Hispanic individuals both alive and dead, but all equally important to Hispanic culture and history," she said. Artist Pablo Picasso, baseball player Roberto Clements and Ellen Ochoa, the first Hispanic woman astronaut to make it into space, were just a few of the figures the students studied this year, she added.  

Margarita Billings teaches Spanish at Notre Dame's upper school and she, too, celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month with her students. She says it's important that students today understand that not everyone looks or thinks or speaks like them and that they also understand the role Hispanics have played and continue to play in the U.S.

In Notre Dame's upper school, Margarita Billings' Spanish 3-4 students made pennants depicting Hispanics throughout history.

"It's also a critical step in understanding themselves and how they fit in this world with people from many different cultures," she said. "Hispanics mow our lawns, roof our homes, cook our food, serve in our armed forces, teach in our universities, write Broadway musicals, and make our laws. More than 50 million people speak Spanish in the United States, second only to Mexico and even more than Spain."

Billings said her students talked about the misconceptions people have with Hispanics and read a poem called "So Mexicans are taking jobs away from Americans." They also discussed an article called "A Brief History of El Salvador," after which there was "an amazing discussion about historical events in Central America and the U.S. involvement."

Aguilar-Fernandez said that like every year they celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, her middle school students this year thought it was fun and interesting and still another way to learn to read and comprehend Spanish. 

"And many students said that even though they were already aware of some of the people they researched, they were surprised to find out about their Hispanic heritage," she said. 

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

Comments or questions? mkelly@ndpma.org

Follow Notre Dame on Twitter at @NDPMA.

About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame Preparatory School enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All three schools are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the National Association of Independent Schools. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school’s home page at www.ndpma.org.

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