Aquebogue Artist Spotlights Highlight Hispanic Contributions
Students Excitedly Engage with Hispanic Artists of Various Genres
RIVERHEAD, NEW YORK (NOVEMBER 2022) — During Hispanic Heritage Month, Aquebogue Elementary School students had the incredible opportunity to learn about a wide array of talented and influential Hispanic musical artists throughout history. Their music teacher, Meghan Kelly, presented a new artist spotlight each week, showcased on her bulletin board outside of her classroom. Students hurried to the board at the start of each week, excited to learn about the featured artist.
“As we explored the music of various Hispanic artists and Spanish-speaking countries in the classroom, students continued their passion for the lessons at home as well,” said Ms. Kelly. “They would listen to the songs we learned with their families and discuss and research their favorite highlighted artists further. Some of the fun facts they brought back to class were ones I had never known!”
Aquebogue Elementary School students first learned about Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Celia Cruz, the Cuban-American singer known as the “Queen of Salsa.” Cruz was followed by National Medal of Arts recipient Tito Puente, the Harlem native of Puerto Rican descent who claimed the title of “Mambo King.” Next, students celebrated the music of Venezuelan virtuoso pianist, composer and conductor Teresa Carreño, who boasted a 54-year concert career and was called the “Valkyrie of the Piano.” Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Carlos Santana, a Mexican most well-known for his band Santana and revolutionary inclusion blues-based lines set against Latin American percussion rhythms, was then highlighted. The last of the Hispanic Heritage Month spotlight artists was the “Queen of Tejano music” Selena, who helped redefine Latin music and its subgenres of Tejano, cumbia and Latin pop.
Students also learned the Guatemalan folk song “Vamos A La Mar,” playing along with drums, guiros, maracas and triangles. Students with families from Guatemala lit up when they heard about the lesson and shared the musical traditions their families celebrate with their peers.
“It is truly our goal for students of all grade levels to be so engaged with the lessons that they are eager to speak about them with their families at home and continue the learning process,” said Aquebogue Elementary School Principal Bryan Miltenberg. “We found this to be particularly significant for Hispanic Heritage Month, given that a great deal of our students and community are Hispanic.”
“It is a point of pride for our staff that we are diversifying our curriculum,” said Aquebogue Elementary School Assistant Principal Gary Karlson. “This greatly enhances the education our students are receiving and their passion for learning.”