Spanish department holds inaugural cultural heritage event


Many of these dancers dance at the local Decatur Ballet dance studio. The dancers pictured were Camille King, Lily Medlock, Ella Talmadge, Lydia Hamby, Caroline Pursele, Isabelle Enloe, Dayana Paz, Stella Williams, Isabel Hanna, Lucy Culpepper, Macyory Calderon and Sandra Martinez-Trueba.

Spanish music echoed throughout the cafeteria on Oct. 26, 2018 as the Decatur Spanish department held the first Spanish Heritage Performances. The event featured Decatur musicians, actors and athletes as they came together to create shows honoring Latin American culture.

Teachers Macyory Calderon and Sandra Martinez-Trueba spearheaded the performances. From Venezuela and Cuba respectively, they wanted their students to get a taste of where they grew up.

“The idea is to celebrate the hispanic heritage in the United States and to celebrate the multiculturalism and all of the influence that they have in [our] culture,” Calderon said.

National Hispanic Heritage Month in the U.S. spans between September 15th and October 15th, but Calderon and Martinez-Trueba were unable to put on the show any earlier because other events already scheduled to take place at the school. Due to this challenge, they decided to prepare the performances throughout the month and hold them as a celebration at the end of the month.

“Showing my culture is what motivates me to do this work,” Calderon said. ”This is one of those opportunities where you really can enjoy showing your culture and celebrating it.”

As soon as the event was proposed, the teachers saw a surge of interest by the students as they started proposing dance, art or choral projects. Calderon saw a chance to engage the students in Spanish while displaying their different talents as well.

“The most interesting thing is that this not even a summative assessment and they are just doing this because they love doing cultural things,” Calderon said.

One of the students, senior Michael Johns, danced and sang to the song “La Bamba” in the performances with a group of his classmates.

“It was super fun because La Bamba was a fun song to dance to,” Johns said. “When we sang the lyric ‘bailando’ everybody got up and started dancing and it was really great to see.”

Kati Hash (left), Michael Johns (center), and Sydney Balcom (right) were three members of the band who sang “La Bamba”. Band members not pictured were Maria Baez, Jane Claire Ordway, and Jennifer Capriola.

Students also created colorful posters that highlighted influential hispanic people, danced to traditional steps, and sang Spanish songs in the hour long experience. Calderon also saw it as a way to further connect with her students and teach them about her beloved culture.

“The students’ work was just so beautiful and they did so many things related to the country that touched me so much,” she said.

Calderon found a way to incorporate her current day hobbies into the event by creating and performing dances to Zumba, the Latin American aerobic fitness program. Calderon already had a Learning Connection devoted to Zumba, so her students decided to create a dance to three of their pre-existing Zumba songs for the event.

“We can get to know [students] and what they do and we can see that part of them that we cannot experience every day in class,” she said.