ST. GABRIEL, LA (WAFB) - Sara O'Neal teaches Spanish at MSA Academy East in St. Gabriel, and says an annual event is what makes her class the most popular one in the school, though other teachers might debate this.
Why? Because Spanish Heritage Month is such a major event at MSA, that kids scramble to sign up for Spanish classes.
This year may be more spectacular than just the food, costumes, and dances. MSA is saluting famous Mexican artistic legend Frida Kahlo. The school is hosting giant wall-size panels that display Kahlo's work, but also show her pictures, and outline her life story including marriage to Mexican mural artist and legend Diego Rivera.
One thing kids may notice almost immediately is that Kahlo saw herself as having a heavy black uni-brow, but in pictures, she never looks like that. It's an interesting artistic choice on her part, and many of her paintings are self-portraits.
But, why choose Frida Kahlo?
"It was my students," explained O'Neal. Especially my Spanish 3 students-- my advanced students-- were looking for somebody famous who could be interesting to profile as a project. So they came up with Frida Kahlo. Her life is so interesting too! So I thought it would be nice to have a painting, and this exhibit was touring, the pictures. This is exactly what we're looking for!"
These are not the original paintings, but because they are exhibit panels and printed life-size, they are very good replicas of the originals. Kids and adults could feel the same impact as looking at the actual paintings.
O'Neal said she called on the online educator's resource website picturediscovery.com. "It's a website for teachers, where we can buy materials and rent traveling exhibits. Years ago, I rented one exhibition like that. They are worth it."
Parents who visit the school will see a different scene outside the school office.
"We are going to put it in the entry hall. In my school, it has beautiful windows, and they're very large," says O'Neal. You have to hang them from the ceilings and the natural light from the windows will be perfect."
"Also, we do this every year during Spanish Heritage Month, and we do a big assembly," O'Neal continued. My students do projects. My Spanish 1 students do countries. My Spanish 2 do plays and skits with Spanish, and my Spanish 3 are doing artists. This year it's Kahlo. Kindergarteners are in their first year of Spanish, so they will sing a song and dance. The first day, we celebrate with food."
O'Neal says they have a sprinkling of students at MSA Academy East who are Latino. They are Spanish-speakers from Puerto Rico and a couple from Mexico.
The massive, much-anticipated exhibition and Spanish Heritage Fest will be October 14th through 16th. Then immediately after, the kids get a short holiday from school for Fall Break.
Looks like they'll be humming and dancing their way home with Latino tunes!
"I am so happy," said Ms. O'Neal