U-46 schools celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with special events for parents, students

Submitted by Elgin Area School District U-46
Posted9/13/2018 9:06 PM
  • Ernesto Mejía

    Ernesto Mejía

  • Joaquín Zihuatanejo

    Joaquín Zihuatanejo

Elgin Area School District U-46 will shine a light on the culture of its Hispanic students in September with the district's annual Hispanic Heritage Month, featuring appearances from special speakers at middle and high schools and a districtwide presentation for parents.

The annual celebration is sponsored by the district's English Language Learners Department, in cooperation with Cool Speak, A Youth Engagement Company.

"More than half of our student body is of Hispanic descent so this month is another great opportunity to recognize the culture that is such a large and vibrant part of the district," said U-46 CEO Tony Sanders. "We encourage all students to enhance their learning experiences by taking part in the activities throughout the month."

This year, two special guests, poet Joaquín Zihuatanejo and motivational speaker Ernesto Mejía, will be visiting select U-46 schools to inspire and inform student and parents in special assemblies Tuesday and Wednesday, Sept. 18-19.

Zihuatanejo is an award-winning teacher, poet and spoken word artist who grew up in the barrio of East Dallas. His work explores the duality of culture for Americans of Hispanic origin, and how Zihuatanejo found refuge in a world of stories and poems. His presentations have been described as forthright and honest, but filled with compassion and nuance, which focus on topics like leadership, teamwork and self-expression.

Mejía, who is the son of Mexican immigrants, is a motivational speaker and expert on parental engagement. He has a compelling life story that stresses inner drive and the value of education. At 16, he was temporarily paralyzed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, but overcame the rare condition to become a college administrator. His speeches stress the opportunities presented through education and importance of persevering against hardships and obstacles.

In addition to speaking to students, Mejía will speak to U-46 parents at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19, in the auditorium at Elgin High School.

The talk, which is being presented by McDonald's and the United States Hispanic Institute, will be in Spanish, with simultaneous translation into English. Childcare will be available for children ages 5 to 10 only.

On Thursday, Sept. 20, McDonald's and the United States Hispanic Leadership will present a student leadership summit at the auditorium at Elgin High School, 1200 Maroon Drive, Elgin.

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