Students explore Hispanic heritage in St. Cloud

Oct 27, 2022
A St. Thomas Aquinas News (STAN) reporter shares information about Mexico. (COURTESY)

ST. CLOUD | Through Bible verses, Spanish lessons, stories of saints and videos, St. Thomas Aquinas News went all out to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

Father Derek Saldanha, parochial administrator, helped start the month strong with a video message about the importance of learning about other cultures. He followed up by leading students and staff in reciting the Our Father in Spanish each day. The video-led prayer included subtitles to help the students follow along.

“Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month gives us the opportunity to celebrate and learn more about the culture of a large number of our students and parishioners who come from Spanish-speaking countries. It helps us grow to respect each other’s culture and also recognize we are all God’s children,” Father Saldanha said.

Each day the “Morning News” highlighted the music styles of different countries, while images from various Hispanic countries illustrated the background. Some days highlighted basic Spanish lessons such as greetings and numbers. Opening credits were translated into Spanish, and even birthdays recognized were sung with the Spanish variation of Happy Birthday, Las Mañanitas.

The students in the St. Thomas Aquinas News (STAN) elective researched Puerto Rico and countries of their family’s heritage, including Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Mexico. Students shared information about favorite foods, music, dances, traditions and the history of those areas.

Bible verses and character trait segments were centered around treating people from other cultures, countries, or those who have different customs with dignity and respect. Saint of the Week segments were read by students informing the feats of faith of St. Juan Diego, St. Pedro de San José Betancur, and St. Martin de Porres.

Contributions of Hispanics in a variety of fields were highlighted. They included astronaut Ellen Ochoa, scientist Mario Molina, humanitarian and baseball player Roberto Clemente, the first Hispanic senator Octavia Larrazolo, scientist Carlos Juan Finlay, Supreme Court judge Sonia Sotomayor, fashion designer Oscar de la Renta and more.

“The overall feel of Hispanic Heritage month on our morning news is that we are celebrating the rich diversity of our country and of our school,” said Lisa Landy, director of communication at St. Thomas Aquinas. “We are very fortunate to have staff and students whose families are from a wide range of countries. I want our students to feel proud of their heritage and I want to encourage them to share their background and experiences with our school population.”

Staff report, October 27, 2022