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Roberts Academy's Culture of Success: Inspiring Achievements During Hispanic Heritage Month

Roberts Academy has always been a vibrant and diverse community, but during Hispanic Heritage Month, the school experienced a remarkable transformation in its culture. Featuring the largest population of Hispanic students in the district, the school embraced this opportunity to honor their heritage and contributions while also standing as a tentpole of celebration in the community. 

“I had a former student come to me and said they loved all our Black History Month celebrations, but wished we could’ve done more with for our Hispanic Heritage Month, so I knew we had to do something,” said Lisa Owens grade-six teacher at Roberts and member of the Robert's Equity Coalition (REC).

With the introduction of Principal Halliwell to the school, the REC and school leadership got to work creating an ultimate plan to honor the culture of the students who make up the school. 

Beginning September 15, students and staff hit the ground running with a school-wide Hispanic Spirit Week. From door decorating to dress-up competitions, Roberts showcased their students’ rich cultural traditions and knowledge throughout the building.

“A lot of our students are feeling seen and feeling pride in their identity. We’ve been doing a read-aloud program where students record themselves reading books featuring Hispanic culture for us to play in classes and that has been really good at connecting the students to the culture,” said Owens.  

While the school has had small recognitions for the month-long celebration in the past, this year the school has taken it upon itself to fully transform the hallways and classrooms into an active learning environment for Hispanic culture. 

“It's pretty cool because people get to see your culture and you can teach people about it,” said Tatiana Beatriz Reynoso. Tatiana explained that being an English Language Learner (ELL) student at Roberts Academy provides her with a unique opportunity to not only learn about other cultures but to teach others about hers.Hispanic Heritage at Roberts

The month-long celebration not only inspired a profound sense of cultural pride among the school's Hispanic students but also led to remarkable connections between the Hispanic ELL students and their schoolwork.

“We do these celebrations to demonstrate that we care about our students as more than just a test score," says John Hiatt, coordinator of the IB Design Program at Roberts. "We don't look at them and say ‘Okay, you start here and here now and this is what state wants us to meet.’ We're not going to have any success unless they're going along for the ride and doing the work. Everyone works harder when they feel like they're valued, and they're seen as an individual."

The school has also seen its fair share of partnerships this month with GE Aerospace providing students with hands-on learning experiences with model airplanes, and the Cincinnati Reds conducting a Q&A between students and the teams’ influential Hispanic players. 

The celebration will culminate in a community-led cleanup project facilitated by the Hispanic Chamber of Cincinnati on October 14. With a team of over 200 dedicated volunteers, the school is set to be repainted and cleaned by the very community it aims to celebrate.