PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Hispanic students at Manual High School in Peoria honored their heritage with a night of music, dance and food.
“Ramilia” is a play on the school’s ram mascot and the Spanish word “familia” meaning family. It was held on Oct. 8 at Manual High, and represented the cultures of Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, El Salvador, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.
“With this atmosphere, it’s celebrating the contributions of Hispanic people around the world [and] the countries they come from,” said Christell Frausto, vice chair of Greater Peoria Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Kristen Bailey, ESL teacher at Manual High, said about 40 Hispanic students put the 150-person event together in just three days.
“We had kids cooking for three nights to make sure we had all the food we needed. All the decorations were made by the kids. All the performances were either done by the kids or staff members…the only thing that wasn’t made by our students was the cake,” she said.
Frausto, who offered planning guidance to the students, said it’s wonderful to see the younger generation express Hispanic pride.
“Think the impact is going to give them more confidence. They’re not going to feel entitled, that people before them didn’t have this opportunity. They’re going to feel empowered to keep going and not settle for how things are today, and just make the event better, and include the entire school to celebrate their heritage,” she said.
Bailey said the Hispanic students tend to be on the quieter side and it was great to see them come out of their shells.
“They’re more of a quiet culture within our school and so it’s really nice to see kids that are usually more shy and not as outgoing come out and just really feel the love we want them to feel at school,” she said.
The entire week was a spirit week dedicated to Hispanic Heritage Month, with daily themes then culminating at Ramilia.
Bailey said the Hispanic student population at Manual is growing, eclipsing the white population to become the school’s second-largest after Black students.