Lane kicks off initiative for more cultural representation with expanded Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations


Isabella Dezort

Students pose in front of the handmade flower display in front of the main office on Sept 16, Mexican Independence Day

By Ruby Thompson, Managing Editor

When Gabriela Escobar, the Director of Culture and Climate went to the administration this year, she said her theme was to go big for everyone when it came to representing and celebrating the cultures of Lane students. 

She wanted to create a space where students could feel represented and seen. She wanted students to feel they mattered.

According to Escobar, in years past, cultural celebrations at Lane have been a bit more subtle. Students and staff get to enjoy clubs performing for cultural heritage events, but this year she wanted to include even more displays of cultural pride and representation for students.

Escobar’s first big step towards expanded representation was for Hispanic Heritage Month this year. Student volunteers spent many hours creating decorations for the beginning of Hispanic Heritage month on Sept. 15, cutting and gluing paper flowers together and making flags to adorn the hallways. 

“For me, walking down the hallway and seeing the banners or seeing the flowers, it makes me feel happier. You know, it just brings a different energy to the school,” Escobar said. 

“But it’s not just about the decorations. It’s more about educating people and exposing them to things that we have that we wouldn’t see otherwise,” Escobar said. “And that’s what makes Lane special, right? Because there’s diversity in this building. It’s just now, how do we highlight that and bring it forward?” 

About 90 students consistently showed up to participate and plan for Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations according to Escobar, including Maritza Sandoval.

“I played a role because, for me, my culture is really important,” Sandoval said. “So I wanted to be part of something that expresses my culture and I can show everybody part of my culture and what’s so special about it.”  

I-Days clubs also performed every Monday morning throughout the month in front of the main office, including junior Michelle Iturbide, a member of Cuban club. 

“A lot of people after the performance came up to me, even people that honestly I have never met before,” Iturbide said. “And they were complimenting me. They were telling me that it was a really good dance and that they loved how we represented those kinds of dances that we don’t see a lot here.” 

Students participated in Hispanic Heritage Month Spirit Week during the week of Oct. 11, the final week of Hispanic Heritage Month, dressing in Quince attire and jerseys that represented Hispanic culture. Students in the halls could also be seen wearing traditional cultural clothing during the Spirit Week for Global Diversity Awareness Month during the week of Oct 17. 

Taking in feedback from students on how these celebrations can be improved and more inclusive is also important, according to Escobar. Originally, Afro-Latino students weren’t included in Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations, but students came forward about it, and later on in the month students were able to come together and create a decorated display by the cafeteria featuring inspirational Afro-Latino figures. 

“I feel like with any presentation, especially because it is student-led, there’s always opportunity to learn,” Escobar said. “And so if we miss something, we want to hear about it. I want to be able to understand our mistakes, address them, and then also make sure that I’m prepared for next, or upcoming years.”

Escobar discussed how often in conversations, students bring up how they don’t feel important or like a part of the community.

“I want to change that,” Escobar said. “Students spend so much of their time at school. I don’t want anyone to ever feel like they’re not important. And so my goal this year has been to really make sure that I work with the students to help them find their voice.”


Yaniya Gilford and Megan Mesikapp contributed reporting