Students at Hoboken High School are taking time to commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month, held annually from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.
The Hispanic Culture Club is an active organization in Hoboken High School made up of approximately 35 students, and their reach is extending beyond the halls of 800 Clinton St.
To kick of Hispanic Culture Month, students in the club organized a community event to provide free health screenings for members of the community. Chris Munoz, a history teacher and advisor to the club, said that 42 members of the community came in for a free screening.
“We do a lot of community service.” – Natasha Rivera, HHS senior
“This was our first time and now we’re going to try doing it every year,” Munoz said of the free screening event. “We’re hoping to add a blood drive next year. We want to add something new every year.”
As part of Hispanic Culture Month, every day the school takes time to profile a notable Hispanic during the morning announcements. On Wednesday of last week, the school profiled Roberto Clemente, and on Thursday, they discussed Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice.
Natasha Rivera, 17, is a senior and the president of the Hoboken Hispanic Culture Club.
“One thing that caught my attention before I joined the club is that they do a lot of community service,” Rivera said.
Rivera said that the lecture series Hispanics in the Community made an impact on her time at the high school.
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) is expected to speak to the students some time this academic year. U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-13th Dist.), Assemblyman Ruben J. Ramos Jr. (D–Hudson), and Housing Authority Director Carmelo Garcia have all delivered lectures to students.
Jonathon Figueroa, 17, is a senior at Hoboken High School who serves as the marketing director for the club.
“I just like being involved in a lot of school activities, and Mr. Munoz is a really cool person so it was a really good thing for me to join,” Figueroa said.
Figueroa added that one of his favorite memories was when the group led a fundraising effort for breast cancer research last year.
Munoz recalled a recent event when the school club took a trip to Multi Cultural Day at Six Flags Great Adventure theme park, joining other foreign language clubs from New Jersey.
“These kids are so proud not only to be Hispanic but also to be from Hoboken,” Munoz said. “That’s their thing; they love this city.”
Munoz said the students are also in the process of forming a mentoring program with the other schools in the district.
“We’re creating a Hispanic Culture Club in Connors for the younger grades,” he said. “And then we’ll have kids from the high school go down to tutor them in a big brother/big sister type arrangement.”
Library events, too
The Hoboken Public Library (500 Park Ave.) will also host events for Hispanic Heritage Month, according to Laura Knittel, the Hoboken Library’s Community Outreach Specialist.
On Oct. 12, at 6 p.m., the Hoboken Public Library will present a musical program to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, featuring the Native Classical band, Inkarayku.
“Their mission is to link the past, present, and future of Andean arts, by ensuring that the Andean culture remains eternal, forever adapting in order to survive but never forgetting its origins and ancestry,” according to a release.
The concert will feature indigenous flutes of Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador.
To RSVP to the library event, call (201) 420-2347.
Ray Smith may be reached at RSmith@hudsonreporter.com