by Justin Kwasa
In parts of Latin America, when a child turns 15 it is customary to celebrate a Quinceañero or Quinceañera. The celebration, much like a Sweet 16, celebrates the child’s transition into adulthood.
For Rochester’s oldest charter school, Eugenio Maria de Hostos (EMH), it only made sense for the school to kick off its 15th anniversary celebration with a Quinceañero of its own. The school, which is named after a Puerto Rican educator and intellectual, is also a bilingual charter school; students and staff are able to communicate in both English and Spanish.
Current and former students, teachers and staff, board members, parents, and many supportive community members celebrated the school’s 15th anniversary recently. Fittingly, the party followed the format of a traditional Quinceañero. School staff explained to the symbolism behind traditions such as the presentation of the court, the last doll, and the waltz.
Sprinkled in between these traditional events were moments for the school to honor and be honored by the community. State Senator Ted O’Brien presented the school with a special recognition award. The school’s first graduating class, now in college, was reunited and honored by their former teachers. Staff members that have been at the school all 15 years were individually recognized. Three separate dance ensembles performed routines for the guests.
EMH’s founder, Julio Vasquez, closed out the night by talking about the school’s big plans for the future. Building on the success of the past, Vasquez announced the school’s ambitious plans to add a high school, double its enrollment, and break ground on a new building on the Joseph Avenue campus.
New York's funding formula does not provide facilities funding to charter students.– it’s one of the issues a recently filed lawsuit is seeking to address. For now, EMH’s expansion project is estimated to cost $7 million, so the school will be fundraising to come up with the money to make the new school buildings and expansion a reality.
Like many 15 year olds, though, it seems as if Eugenio Maria de Hostos’s future is bright and the best is yet to come.
Do you like this post?