Makayla Grijalva | News-Bulletin photos

The School of Dreams Academy bilingual program hosted a Multicultural Day highlighting Mexican and Latino culture through dance and language. The day included traditional dances performed by dancers from Chihuahua, Mexico, and ended with SODA’s National Honor Society passing out “bolis” or popcicles to the students.

Dancers from Mexico performed a series of cultural dances with roots to both Spain and Indigenous Mexicans, including folklorico and danza de matachines.

“We believe our heart is with culture, heritage and community, and what the community wants, we have,” said Lorena Hererra, who runs SODA’s bilingual program. “We start at 3 years old, and now they go all the way to their senior year, and graduate with Spanish, dual credit 101 and 102.”

The event saw 100 percent participation by students, with parents and other community members also invited to participate in the fiesta.

“The importance, and sometimes many people forget, that we are here in New Mexico,” Herrera said.“We’re fortunate that by the constitution of New Mexico and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, New Mexico is a bilingual state.”

Dancers from Mexico performed a series of cultural dances with both Spanish and Indigenous roots, including folklorico and danza de matachines.

Each class, pre-K to 12th grade, also created a piñata to be judged during the event. Guest judges were SODA Governing Council member Ralph Mims and Valencia County Sheriff Denise Vigil (a former council member)unanimously voted the seniors, who created a large “2022” celebrating their upcoming graduation, victorious in the contest.

The event concluded with SODA’s National Honor Society handing out “bolis” or popsicles out to all the events participants.

Herrera said she hopes the event will grow to include more cultures and countries next year.

“The beauty of New Mexico is that we are multicultural. Look at all the Pueblos, and like I said, this event is just the beginning, but the importance of the bilingual program, its tradition, it’s a culture. Also, it helps us understand that a lot of our ancestors, they come from Spain.”

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Makayla Grijalva was born and raised in Las Cruces. She is a 2020 graduate of The University of New Mexico, where she studied multimedia journalism, political science and history. She covers the village of Los Lunas, Los Lunas Schools, SODA and the town of Peralta.