WCSD students, teachers celebrate Spanish culture

Gladys Archer, Serenity Eggleston — winner of “Best Cultural Attire”, and Jewel Rozanski.

“We truly believe that it is a skill that’s worthwhile, and one that, if pursued, can created incredible opportunities.”

That’s what Warren Area High School Spanish teacher Gladys Archer said of learning Spanish. “If a student wants to become fully bilingual, we want to make sure that they’re able to do just that in the Spanish program. And if they’re having fun, they’re more likely to stick with it.”

Archer, along with fellow Spanish teacher Jewel Rozanski, have been planning the second annual “La Gran Fiesta,” a cultural event for students in the district to get a taste of authentic Hispanic culture, since around September Archer said.

The first was last year, with around 70 students from Warren Area High School in attendance. This year, said Rozanski, around 80 showed up from both Warren and Youngsville. Next year, said Archer, the goal is to have all four district high schools represented.

“We’d like to make it a district-wide Spanish program event,” said Archer. The entire idea is to “create a Spanish cultural experience right here in Warren, to promote Spanish culture, and to give students a really beautiful experience of Spanish culture.”

The event includes Hispanic menus and a DJ playing contemporary Latin music, and students are encouraged to dress the part, and to learn Spanish cultural dances to show off during the night. A prize for best cultural attire is awarded each year, with Serenity Eggleston winning this year in a Dia de los Muertas sugar skull dress.

The prize? This year, it was Chuy, the porcine character from “The Book of Life,” which Archer teaches in her Spanish classes.

This year’s theme was Mexico, being that the event fell this year on Mexican Flag Day, which is Feb. 24. Last year, said Archer, the theme was the Caribbean islands.

Whatever the specific region of Hispanic culture is being represented from year to year, said Archer, “the idea is to give students a cultural experience. We want to make it very real for them, make it authentic. We want to create a culture within a culture.”

This year’s event featured traditional Mexican dishes including sopa Azteca (chicken tortilla soup), enchiladas de ternera y frijol (beef and bean stuffed enchiladas), and Mexican street fries with nacho cheese and salsa ketchup. Dessert included sopaipillas and a’tole (Mexican hot chocolate made with corn flour).