PHENIX CITY, Ala. (WRBL) – To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, Central Freshman Academy in Phenix City held a program in its auditorium on Friday. The seats were filled with excited students who clapped and cheered to the performances.

“Ms. [Zulaica] Konz, our instructional coach, she has put together a fabulous show for us here today,” said Central Freshman Academy Principal Sylvia Averett.

Ninth grader Alexis Kirk gave a welcoming speech.

“Hispanic Heritage Month begins on Sept. 15, the anniversary of independence for five Latin American countries – Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua,” she said. “In addition, Mexico declared its independence on Sept. 16, and Chile on Sept. 18. Hispanic Heritage Month originally started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week, which was now approved by President Lyndon Johnson. It is now a 30-day celebration starting on Sept. 15 and ending on Oct. 15. President Ronald Reagan expanded Hispanic Heritage Month in 1988.”

A guest speaker, Daisy Lynton, gave a slideshow presentation on the culture of Panama.

“In Panama, there’s people like you, like me,” she said. “It’s a multi-culture country.”

Lynton showed students dresses that women in Panama wear and various celebrities from the country. She then had students watch a documentary on the Panama Canal.

Ninth grader Derrick Hill read an explanation on the meanings of Hispanic and Latino.

“The term Hispanic or Latino, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, refers to Puerto Rican, South or Central American or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race,” he said. “On the 2020 Census form, people of Spanish/Hispanic/Latino origin could identify themselves as Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano, Puerto Rican, Cuban or ‘another Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin.’ The U.S. Hispanic population reached 62.1 million in 2020, an increase of 23% over the previous decade that outpaced the nation’s 7% overall population growth.”

Nehemias Domingo, wearing a gray suit and hat, sang “Que Chulos Ojos” by La Dinastia de Tuzantla.

Konz gave an introduction to a group set to perform with the Guatemalan marimba.

“I am so excited to present the next group because they have worked very hard, and they’re very nervous as we all are,” she said.

Konz said the Guatemalan marimba folkloric dance began in the early to mid 16th century.

“The marimba is the national instrument of Guatemala,” she said. “Some of our students are from Guatemala and will be presenting and demonstrating a small snippet of one of their traditional dances. Today we have Cindy Garcia, Lidia Bernabe Reynoso, we have Cesar Aguilar Lopez and we have Johan Ramirez Vazquez interpreting ‘Dedos de Oro.'”

After the performance of “Dedos de Oro,” Konz gave an introduction to the kind of music that Latin Fusion, a Puerto Rican band, would be performing next.

“The Plena was developed from bomba music around the beginning of the 20th century in southern Puerto Rico,” she said. “Plena lyrics are narrative. They convey a story about events, address typical themes, often comment on [inaudible] protest movements and offer satirical commentary.”

Konz said plena music was used to communicate news in Puerto Rico.

After Latin Fusion performed a few songs, four women and a little girl performed Mexican dances in traditional dresses.

At the end of the show, a few students and teachers danced in a contest on stage to “Stand by Me.” The teachers won.

Daisy Lynton, Latin Fusion and Cecilia Gutierrez, one of the Mexican dancers, were given certificates to thank them for volunteering their time. In an interview, Konz said she had recruited them at Tri-City Latino Festival in Columbus.