Students at Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS) James Elementary School in Indian Mound wrapped up their Hispanic Heritage week with a huge celebration on Friday afternoon that concluded with a performance of storytelling dances performed by two dancers from Grupo Folklórico Izcalli, a local folkloric dance troupe based in Shawnee, Kan.
According to Principal Josie Herrera, this is the first opportunity students have had for enrichment in almost 20 months since the beginning of the pandemic. The students were divided into two performances to allow for safe distancing.
“They’ve been really excited for all the activities this past week,” said Herrera, who is in her first year as principal at James. “We’re playing Loteria during lunch, which is like a Mexican bingo. We had pan dulce, which is a Mexican bread, and this is our culminating activity to end our celebration.”
Grupo Folklorico Izcalli founder Annel Alvarez and dancer Tania Sosa were a little nervous going in, this being their first experience performing for younger students.
“Younger kids are a tough crowd, they’re very honest,” Alvarez said. “We were a little bit nervous but they’ve been really good and so excited.”
Both Alvarez and Sosa have been dancing since age five. If the name Folklorico Izcalli sounds familiar, they performed at a recent Kansas City Chiefs home game.
Other activities during the week included music and culture day where students learned different music and history from various Latino cultures, and dress up day where students were encouraged to dress in the colors of the flag of a Latin American country.
“We’re excited,” Herrera said, “And really looking forward to partnering with the community moving forward.”
Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated between September 15 and October 15 every year. Of Indian Mound’s nearly 11,000 residents, about 36% are Hispanic, compared to about 10% citywide.