PLAINFIELD, NJ — Plainfield Public Schools, in partnership with the Plainfield Arts Council, presented a day of activities at its “Festival Latino” at Plainfield High School on Saturday to close out Hispanic Heritage Month.

National Hispanic Heritage Month is a recognized national event, enacted into law on the approval of Public Law 100-402 on August 17, 1988, to celebrate the contributions of Americans whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

Performances by elementary students from Evergreen, Fredrick W. Cook, Dewitt D. Barlow, and Stillman schools entertained the families assembled in the high school gym, starting off with a colorful parade of flags and a musical introduction by Karawi, an Andean Band. Vendors and local organizations were set up in the cafeteria, while food vendors cooked outdoors, taking advantage of the mild fall weather.

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Numerous administrators were present at the event, including Dr. Diana Mitchell, Superintendent of Plainfield Public Schools; Acting Assistant Superintendent Mark Williams; Principal Wilson Aponte, Barlow School; Principal Gwynetta Joe, Stillman School; PHS Vice Principal Juan Pablo Jimenez; PHS Vice Principal Wilson Martinez;  PHS Vice Principal Terri Shareef, and many educators. 

Board of Education members Richard Wyatt, Terence Johnson, Lynn Anderson and Carmencita Pile, along with Assemblywoman Linda Carter and Plainfield Councilman Barry Goode were also on hand.

Over 30 student volunteers helped hand out the program, participated in the opening ceremonies with the Parade of Flags, and served as ushers.

According to Gloria Montealegre, Community Engagement Liaison for the Board of Ed said,  "It was a fun day, and most rewarding was seeing the joy in the children and their parents faces.  Everyone was smiling and having a great time.  Thanks to our district that every year brings our community together through festivals during Hispanic Heritage Month and Black History Month.  We now have our eyes set in February when the district celebrates Black History Month."

The highlight of the day's events was the appearance of professional Latino wrestlers, Huracan Rameriz Jr. and Cicion Ramirez, who came straight from Mexico to greet the children in Plainfield before a match later that evening in the Bronx to also celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. The parking lot was transformed into a wrestling ring where demonstrations were given by the Plainfield Wrestling Group.

Assistant Coach Washington and former PHS student Styler Frye showed the children moves, and promoted the upcoming Plainfield High School wrestling season prior to the professional wrestlers took to the ring.

This year's festivities were organized by Montealegre and committee members Guisella Penafiel, Cynthia Mereles, Juan Pablo Jimenez, Arne Akre, Oscar Arboleda, Susana Roman, Marie Maldonado, Edith Lobelo, and Milagro Henriquez-Rivas.  Plainfield High School students Chelsea Young and Abigail Chang Muriel served as emcees for the event.

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