John Paul II students find ways to celebrate Hispanic Heritage during COVID-19

Hispanic Heritage Month

RIDGELAND, S.C. (WSAV) – A group of high school students came together for Hispanic Heritage Month as a way to celebrate their fellow classmates.

When faced with limitations because of COVID-19, students at John Paul II Catholic School in Ridgeland brainstormed ways to safely share the achievements of the Hispanic and Latinx community.

Ximena Hernandez, whose family comes from Mexico, says she really appreciates all of the bulletin boards and daily announcements meant to celebrate her family’s culture.

“It means a lot,” she said. “Being able to converse to two different kinds of people in two different languages, and to have more people know about my culture and about the country where I came from, it just feels really special.”

COVID-19 safety precautions also prevented students from holding big assemblies or bringing in outside groups to present elements of Hispanic culture, like music or cuisine, to the school.

Student leaders worked with classes to create bulletin boards explaining Hispanic Heritage Month as well as highlight important figures in the community.

Every morning, a short biography of an important Latino is shared during the morning announcements as well.

“I think that if we’re more together here, it just forms a tighter bond between everybody,” said junior Zoe Mast. “It makes the school more welcoming to new people.”

Administrators say they’re proud of the students for adapting to the challenges presented by COVID-19 to highlight the culture of members of their student body.

“I could’ve imagined as part of this celebration, we would have had a Spanish Heritage feast,” said Principal John McCarthy. “But we can’t do that now. I think the students have done a great way of ensuring that everybody’s involved in this and everybody’s a part of it.”

Roughly 20% of the student body at John Paul II Catholic School identifies as Hispanic or Latino.

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