Owensboro Public Schools is making a concerted effort to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month this week in all of its schools.

This is the first time the school system has taken a system-wide approach to celebrate many of its students and staff members who identify as Hispanic. Each school is celebrating in its own way, and there have also been district-wide communications.

Hispanic Heritage Month runs from Sept. 15-Oct. 15.

On Monday, OPS partnered with individuals from the community and employees who were asked to tell stories of their heritage via video messages that were sent out to all schools, students and staff.

One staff member, Yvette Lopez, who is an English language assistant at Cravens Elementary School, explained in her video that she is from Puerto Rico, home of the only rainforest in the U.S.

“We love music, we like to dance,” she said of the Puerto Rican people. “We are happy people. I am very, very proud to be a Puerto Rican. I am very, very proud to be a Latina.”

Summer Bell, OPS mental health coordinator, helped organize the week-long celebration. She wanted to do something to celebrate and recognize the Hispanic culture and how important it is to the school district.

OPS is a diverse district, Bell said, and that is something all members of the OPS family take pride in.

“We want to celebrate culture and help these students, staff members and community members,” she said.

David Phillips, OPS director of diversity, equity and inclusion, said this is a great teaching and learning opportunity.

“I know I enjoyed the videos and learned a lot,” he said. “So our hope is that others can as well.”

He said there are plans to continue this celebration each year and make it bigger and better.

Other celebrations that will take place throughout the week are: the inclusion of Hispanic cuisine in cafeterias on Tuesday; cultural pride day on Wednesday, in which students can dress in apparel representative of their culture; a celebration of Hispanic art work will be displayed at each school on Thursday; and Friday each school will be doing its own projects to celebrate.

Owensboro Innovation Middle School students will be hosting their own version of Spain’s running of the bulls. For this project, one student from each class will be designated the “bull.” Each of those students will be wearing a T-shirt to represent the bull, and during recess students will line up near the north goalposts at the Owensboro Middle School football field. Students will run with the bulls in a game of tag. The first five students to reach the south goalposts without being tagged by a bull will receive a prize.

Bobbie Hayse, bhayse@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7315

Bobbie Hayse, bhayse@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7315

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