By Superintendent Addison Davis

The diverse student body within Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) not only makes our district unique, but it also makes us stronger. With more than 80,000 students identifying as Hispanic in our community, it is important to celebrate during National Hispanic Heritage Month, which begins on Thursday, September 15 and ends on Saturday, October 15. While we have a variety of special tributes, programs and celebrations throughout our campuses to honor contributions that Hispanics have made to our nation, I want to also share how HCPS celebrates Hispanic culture each and every day. 

At the beginning of this academic year, our district hosted an Immigrant Welcome Center at Leto Adult School to provide one central location for the influx of Cuban residents expected into Tampa Bay. District staff worked diligently on-site to provide assistance with registration, physicals and immunizations, as well as offer resources like food and clothing. We realize standing together to welcome our growing Hispanic community is critical to our mission and to student achievement. 

Families will again benefit from Pasos al Futuro, a series of events aimed at helping students in grades 8-12 to prepare for high school, college and the workforce. The kickoff event will be held at the University of South Florida, the first time it has ever been hosted on a college campus. These presentations will be entirely in Spanish to educate families on requirements for college admission, explain how to apply for financial aid and give an overview on the application process. This program is a critical component to connect with families about postsecondary opportunities. 

The National Parent School Partnership Program is another chance for HCPS families to become engaged in their student’s educational journey. We work with Spanish-speaking families to empower them to advocate for their student while building a more effective parent-school partnership. 

Whether in the classroom, through a learning series or in an arts performance, your child will enjoy a variety of events to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at their school as we aim to celebrate this unique culture and all it has to offer. Our staff will have the opportunity to engage in Hispanic culture learning opportunities with a professional development series. 

We must also remember to acknowledge and celebrate this growing community year-round by continually providing unique opportunities and unwavering support to our Hispanic families, educators and staff. When we commemorate Hispanic culture this month, we celebrate our community’s diversity.

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