Whitewater Middle School students celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month

Part of the assignment was students created paper butterflies. Those creations will be sent to students in Central Mexico.
Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 5:31 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Whitewater Middle School students are celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month and reading the book titled “Summer of the Mariposas”.

It’s about a Mexican American family that talks about sisterhood, culture, and migration.

“Migration is a human story,” Whitewater Middle School Teacher Kenan Kerr said. “So often in our society today immigration is demonized, politicized, weaponized and so we want our LatinX students and really all of our students to celebrate migration because through migration our country has become more diverse - more prosperous and stronger.”

Kerr, an English Language Arts teacher, thinks it’s important to have an assignment focusing on National Hispanic Heritage Month.

She says about 40 percent of the student population at Whitewater MS identify as Hispanic students.

“One of my hopes as a teacher is every student sees themselves represented in the curriculum,” Kerr said. “Whether that be in the history we are studying or the books we are reading. I hope for our LatinX students that they feel they are valued, celebrated, recognized, and seen.”

Mariposa means Butterfly in Spanish. Kerr wanted her students to know the significance of the butterfly.

“We wanted our students to think about what the butterfly represents,” she said. “Not just in the novel but in contemporary culture and in our society. The butterfly has long been a symbol of the immigrants’ rights movement.”

Part of the assignment was students created paper butterflies. Those creations will be sent to students in Central Mexico. Kerr’s students embraced the reading and artistic assignments.

“I was highly excited,” Whitewater Middle School 8th grader Kysean Holman said. “Because I never did this in previous years. It was shocking to actually see the butterflies go to Mexico.”

Holman also thinks it’s great to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.

“If we didn’t have it, they would be left out,” the student said. “Since we have Black History Month - since we like have other months - they would be left out, so I would like to support them.”

Kerr said her students were excited about sending the butterflies and students in Mexico were just excited to receive them.

“They’re just very enthused to learn about our students,” Kerr said. “Each butterfly we send represents our students’ identity, community, and culture and so it’s an intercultural exchange that I hope builds awareness, understanding, and appreciation to our neighbors to the South.”

As the students complete their assignment - the teacher believes cultural awareness can translate into academic success.

“We have seen a positive correlation between more inclusive curriculum and student’s attendance and student achievement,” the teacher said. “Because if in a classroom it’s communicated that I matter, my family matters, my culture matters, then I am more willing to apply myself - engage to share my own experiences because I feel like I have a place in the school and in the community at large.”

In the Spring, students in Mexico will send their version of a paper butterfly to Whitewater Middle School students.

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