Hispanic Leadership Clubs Host Noche Latina


Sarah D'Souza

El presidente del club de la directiva Hispana senior Bella Bethancourt y un senior de Richard Montgomery HS Gabriel Verlarde bailaban durante la Noche Latina Dec. 13.

Sarah D'Souza, Editor-in-Chief

Cheers echoed throughout the cafeteria as performers dressed in colorful attire passionately took the stage, displaying representations of centuries-old festivities with modern twists.

Hispanic Leadership Club (HLC) hosted Noche Latina Wednesday, Dec. 13 at 6 p.m. in the RHS cafeteria, featuring various Latin performances, cuisines, music and activities for a $5 entrance fee.

“Noche Latina is a night for all the Hispanic and Latino cultures to come and celebrate not just with ourselves, but with others cultures, and we just like to group everyone together and have fun and celebrate our heritage,” HLC president senior Bella Bethancourt said.

HLC has hosted the event for the past two years, and this year collaborated with RHS ambassadors, the National Art Honors Society (NAHS), the Unidos club, poms and the Latin dance team.

In preparation for the event, NAHS made posters and tissue paper centerpieces for the tables, as well as stationing face painting throughout the night.

Before serving the food, there was a fashion show of quinceanera dresses and other cultural clothing. Then at 7 p.m. ambassadors served buffet-style Latin food which included various dishes from conventional foods like quesadillas and empanadas, to traditional foods like Peruvian papas a la huancaina and ensalada rusa.

Noche Latina is a night for all the Hispanic and Latino cultures to come and celebrate not just with ourselves, but with others cultures, and we just like to group everyone together and have fun and celebrate our heritage.”

HLC President Bella Bethancourt

After the food was served, Bethancourt and Richard Montgomery HS senior Gabriel Verlarde performed a traditional Bolivian caporales dance, wearing matching sequined costumes, followed by a solo caporales performance from Ronald Montevilla (“17). The poms squad performed a Latin-inspired dance, followed by a partner performance from the Latin dance team.

“I was a little scared that I was going to be really nervous and not really feel like I would understand [the dance], but then it turned out really fun and I’m glad I came and got to learn about everything,” sophomore pom Mackenzie Jones said.

One of the main goals for Noche Latina was to create a place where the Hispanic community could showcase aspects of their culture, traditions and abilities to the Rockville community. Furthermore, the event was meant to bring people together and bridge culture gaps by giving community members a place to network and make new friends from different cultures.

“It is part of the culture. [The hispanic community] tends to be very sociable within their group, but when they are with strangers, they kind of shut down. An example is that I had a student that was very enthusiastic to perform, and he came and at the end decided not to do it,” HLC sponsor and Spanish teacher Maritza Vakas said. “But, he had performed in my class and it was very nice.”

This is Vakas first year as co-HLC sponsor and the Spanish National Honors Society (SNHS) sponsor. She said that while the event was a lot of fun, that there is still room to improve in terms of improving the relationship between the Hispanic and American cultures.

For these reasons, everyone was welcomed to observe and be a part of Noche Latina, and after the performances, the audience was invited onto the dance floor to try various Latin dances where a volunteer DJ played music until the end of the night.

“I’ve met a bunch of new people from different cultures [this year] and it’s been great. My Spanish has improved because of it, and I’ve learned traditions and practices of the culture because of my friends,” senior Matthew Swagart said.

Swagart learned traditional dances like the bachata, the tango and the samba at Noche Latina. He is also enrolled in IB Spanish higher level (HL) level seven, and said that while he enjoyed the music, his favorite part of the night was trying all of the Latin American food.