By CC ’22
When I was in my second semester of 7th grade, all the way back in 2017, I got to experience the start of something very exciting. The Latin American Hispanic Student Organization of HW was finally formed on the middle school campus. My little Cuban self was on Cloud 9!
I had always wondered why there wasn’t a Latin American affinity group at HW, but I wasn’t too surprised since there hadn’t been one at my old school. So, as soon as I heard meetings were starting, I showed up to every single one. About 3 meetings in, the 9th grade leaders asked me to promote the club in front of my whole grade at 7th grade class meeting. Although it was pretty terrifying, I was really determined to spread the word about LAHSO. I’d only been a member for about a month, yet I knew the passion I felt for this newborn club was so real. From then on, I knew I’d always be an active part of this amazing organization.
I led LAHSO in 8th and 9th grade, was a member of the upper school club in 10th grade, and now I’m so honored to be leading it as a junior. Some of my favorite memories at HW have been made with LAHSO: having in-depth discussions with my peers about current events in Latin America, celebrating Día de los Muertos, hosting the annual piñata smashing on Cinco de Mayo, selling Tamales to raise money for charity, dancing to reggaeton on Just Dance, and all around always having an absolute blast!
LAHSO holds many special events outside of regular weekly meetings too. For instance, when I was in 9th grade, the middle school LAHSO took a field trip to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery’s Día de Los Muertos Festival. The upper school LAHSO hosts a sleepover on campus every year, and this year we’re planning on replacing it with a virtual movie night!
I think the beauty of LAHSO, and all the affinity groups at HW, is that they are in no way limited to people who identify with that specific ethnicity or culture. I have many friends who aren’t Latin American or Hispanic who come to LAHSO meetings to just have a good time! Having this openness is so special, as we can hear the points of view of our peers outside of the community, and so they can learn a bit more about ours.
There’s also a Latin American Parent Association, LAPA. LAPA hosts events like the annual family luncheon and runs a booth that sells really delicious Latin American food at the annual Homecoming Carnival. LAPA recently hosted a “Get Out The Vote” zoom event with the Civic Center. Lots of LAHSO members, including myself, have parents that are members of LAPA, and having ways to connect to the Latin American community at HW as an entire family is really awesome.
LAHSO is only about 4 years old, since it was formed at the Upper School in 2016. Even though it’s so young, we have such a large and interconnected community. Over the summer, I went to a zoom reunion with the Upper School LAHSO club, teachers, and alumni, including the same alumni who founded the club 4 years ago. Getting to see all the different students, alumni, and faculty, who are united by our love for LAHSO reminded me just how grateful I am to have an organization like this at my school. The Latin American community is one of the smallest minority groups at HW, but having LAHSO/LAPA really does make us one big familia.