The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

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For younger students, Latinos Unidos events provide representation, joy

Neha Dhawan
LUNCHING AND LOUNGING. Members of Latinos Unidos eat while watching a movie during a Friday club meeting. Right now, the club is focused on planning for next year rather than hosting events. “We’re thinking about board for next year and also thinking about how we can include ourselves even more into the community in involvement,” Yolotzin Martinez, Latinos Unidos co-president, said.

Only 7% of students at the Laboratory Schools identify as Latinx, the smallest racial group at the school. It is not often that Latinx students, especially younger ones, encounter others who look like them or share a similar background, so celebratory functions held by the high school Latinos Unidos can help expose them to the Latinx community at Lab.

The events held by Latinos Unidos allow for Latinx students of all ages to see representation in a community where there are so few of them.

On Nov. 1, 2022, and Nov. 2, 2023, Latinos Unidos members held Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) events, which featured activities like sugar skull making, temporary tattoos and face painting. Both celebrations were open to the whole school. Lower, middle and high schoolers joined together to enjoy them.

“I personally really liked seeing all of the range of grades in that space,” Sari Hernández, Latinos Unidos faculty adviser, said. “So the little kids are adorable. And so at one point there was a group of high schoolers doing more of the temp tattoos and the little kids were doing the sugar skulls, and it was just nice seeing the grades all together.”

Last year’s celebration of Dia del Niño, Children’s Day, which emphasizes the well-being and importance of children, was held on April 28, 2023. The event included food and piñatas.

Because it was held outdoors, people from the neighborhood were able to walk by and see the celebration, Ms. Hernández said. They could hear the music playing and see the piñata being broken. There’s value in taking up space and normalizing these celebrations.

Ultimately, these functions allow members of the Latinx community to see one another in a condensed space, and younger students can see representation across schools.

“It just creates such a strong bond within the community, the Latino community itself within Lab as well as just confidence within the little kids, being able to see that they in high school also exceed and that it is possible to be Latino and be at Lab,” Yolotzin Martinez, Latinos Unidos co-president, said.

For younger kids, these celebrations can help them understand their identities and backgrounds.

“I see it as impactful to form your identity and growing to understand who you are and where your family’s from or where your religion or culture comes from,” Christian Martinez, a Latinos Unidos board member, said.

According to Ms. Hernández, within the high school, Latinx people are talked about more after a tragedy. While talking about crises and fundraising is important, these events are a celebration of culture. 

Having visible representation of Latinx joy is important, Ms. Hernández said. The point of these events is just to have fun and learn about Latinx culture.

Around 150 students across an entire school may feel sparse, but when collected in a room together, enjoying food and activities, culture is celebrated, and the Latinx joy doesn’t seem so far away.

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About the Contributor
Neha Dhawan
Neha Dhawan, Reporter
Neha Dhawan is a member of the Class of 2025. She began journalism as a junior. She enjoys creative writing, especially poems, songs and short stories and is on the girls golf team.

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