In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated nationally from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 each year, students at Buford High School participated in a Hispanic Heritage Month Reflection Contest through language arts teacher Dr. Amber Simmons and Buford City Schools Curriculum Director and Diversity and Inclusion Program Manager Dr. Lacrecia Smith.

Students showcased their talents through literature, music, dance or original art to recognize the cultural influence and contributions of Hispanic Americans or to celebrate their own heritage. Monetary scholarships were awarded to the winners, funded by a grant from Education First and Novo Foundation, which was obtained by Simmons.

First place was awarded to Emmy Cruz-Beltran for her mixed-medium drawing “Woman with Headdress in Mexico.” Second place was awarded to Naomi Mitrofan for her colored pencil drawing “Dancers.” Third place went to Ava Jones, whose original poem “Heritage Sonnet” was an homage to her African American ancestry.

Honorable mentions were presented to Maybelin Ortiz for the artwork “Mayan Headdress”; Sophia Kwak for “Ribbon Dancer”; and David Lee, who performed “River Flows in You,” a piano submission made popular by South Korean pianist Yurima. 

Heritage Sonnet (third place)

By Ava Jones

Although I do not know much about where I am from,

I know what my family has had to overcome.

Forced as slaves stolen from our land,

Life passed by as my ancestors’ courage started to expand.

We became proud of our various colors,

Migrating to the north looking for jobs,

A community formed, coming together.

Back in the South was another community,

Wrapped in love, wrapped in unity,

Two offspring embarked looking for a promising tomorrow,

And met, unlike Romeo and Juliet, without sorrow.

The North and South converged and new love emerged.

In the present day, they taught their children their values,

That’s why I stand tall, walk proud, loving my heritage.

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