SOMERS POINT — Celebrating and exploring the diversity of the district was behind the second annual Hispanic cultural celebration Nov. 1 at Jordan Road School. It was a night for food, dancing, music, crafts, face painting and, of course, pinatas.

More than 200 students and adults made their way back to the school to enjoy the celebration Thursday evening along with 25 staff members from all of the district’s schools. Organized by the English as a Second Language teachers Kim O’Brien, Meghan Weimer and Joanne Beagan, District Supervisor of the ESL program Eileen Ward and the Bilingual Parent Advisory Council. Members of the Somers Point National Junior Honor Society volunteered to serve traditional food prepared by the parents and members of the BPAC.

The Somers Point School District has more than 60 English-learning students enrolled and the district screens the pre-kindergarten students to see who is eligible for ESL service, according to Ward.

Face painting was a hit with teachers Erin Albrecht, Ginny Swift and Kim Ciampa working hard to create the Día de Muertos masks. Dawes Avenue School Principal Doreen Lee was in charge of the pinatas that were filled with healthy snacks and the kids were rewarded for their prowess with the stick as bags of animal crackers fell to the floor and were quickly scooped up.

Mexican spices were in the air and some of the parents brought their favorite native dishes to share with friends at the Hispanic Cultural Celebration, including arroz con leche, taquitos with green chili sauce, tamales galore, pozole soup, Spanish rice, Horchata (cinnamon rice milk), rice pudding, flan, concha (sweet bread), pan Dulce’s (cinnamon buns), Pico de Gallo and more treats.

Ward said the families enjoyed sharing their culture and bringing dishes that are a taste of home. They also enjoyed looking at a large map of Mexico, Central America and South America and finding their home towns and leaving a little label on the map with their name and the town their family came from before calling Somers Point their hometown.

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