KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Hispanic heritage is colorful and diverse, just like the students at Guadalupe Centers Middle School.
“The majority of them, 80%, come from Mexican background. We have Hondurans; we have Peruvians,” Principal Claudia Meyer said.
The Guadalupe Centers is the longest-operating agency helping Latinos. That’s why as Hispanic Heritage Month comes to an end, the middle school threw a fiesta recognizing the different cultures.
“We want to showcase the Latino pride that we have here,” teacher Mara Gilyard said.
Part of that pride includes the mariachi band.
Chase Shumsky, the mariachi instructor, said not many students in the Kansas City area can learn the music at school.
“It is very unique to our schools,” Shumsky said. “You don’t see it at other places other than Arizona, Texas, New Mexico.”
He said as he’s taught the kids musicality, he’s learning more himself about its cultural and why this type of music is so special.
“It’s a very culturally bound artform. It encompasses the passion, the struggles, the successes of the culture surrounding it. I think it’s very beautiful,” he said.
Lizabeth Caballero was influenced by mariachi music at a young age. She said her dad would play the music for her. That’s why she picked up the guitar. And Wednesday, she performed for the first time in front of students.
“I love the way we can express ourselves,” Caballero said.
Hispanic pride comes in many forms, and Meyer said she has made it her mission.
“I wanted to create a school environment where everyone feels like they belong,” she said.
And part of making students feel like they belong is making her students feel proud to showcase their heritage in school and beyond.
“Their cultural background is something that should be cherished every single day, that it should be seen as an asset,” Meyer said.