The town’s 24th annual Hispanic Heritage Celebration featured dance performances by students from Walt Whitman High School and Huntington High School, a performance by Half Hollow Hills High School East’s Guitar Ensemble, and a dinner with a musical performance by the Triple M Fiesta band.
The celebration at the Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School last week brought together elected officials, community leaders, local school districts, students and their families.
Carmen Kasper, the town’s recently appointed first Latina director of human services, offered the first welcome of the night. Libardo Ramos, market manager of People’s United Bank in Northport, served as master of ceremonies. Frank Altamirano, an All-State singer from Half Hollow Hills High School East, performed the national anthem. Josue Daniel Rivera, lead pastor at the Huntington Assembly of God, offered the invocation and benediction. The celebration included a keynote speech by counselor, educator and community activist Cristobal Benitez.
“We are here at our town’s 24th annual celebration of Hispanic Heritage to recognize Cristobal Benitez, Julio Hernandez, and outstanding students from across the Town of Huntington whose individual contributions have impacted our greater Huntington community,” Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci said. “We celebrate our culturally rich, diverse town and the individual contributions that, together, make us great. You are our town’s Hispanic heritage, making you all a part of Huntington’s history.”
“It’s important to recognize the contributions of Huntington’s Hispanic community and the good work of the town’s Hispanic Task Force. I’d like to applaud our new Hispanic Task Force Chair, Veronica Melgar, for her efforts in spearheading Madres Latinas, an initiative that launched in May of this year,” said Councilman Ed Smyth. Madres Latinas offers resources and learning opportunities for parents, including monthly workshops held the second Wednesday of the month in the Community Room at the Huntington Station Library.
Joining Lupinacci and Smyth were Town Clerk Jo-Ann Raia and Tax Receiver Jillian Guthman, members of the Hispanic Task Force, state Sen. Carl L. Marcellino and Susan Berland, Suffolk County District 16 legislator.
Julio Hernandez, tax accountant, was honored with a Community Service Award. Student Achievement Awards were presented to Ivan Andrade, Victoria Bueso, Juan Carrasco, Francisco Chong, Rachel Friedlander, Sara Gallegos, Tatiana LaSalle, Anyi Mancia-Matute, Melanie Navarro, Brenda Perez Peláez, Henry Rivas, Samantha Rivera, Daniella Rodriguez-Rebolledo, Gabriella Rojas, Ricardo Romero, Katie Sierra, Michaela Soury, Aidan Tornquist, Jeannet Vargas and Claudia Villatoro.
The celebration was sponsored by Palacios Law Group, the Law Offices of David M. Sperling, People’s United Bank, and HealthFirst, with donations from Walgreens.
In the featured photo, student honorees and town, state and county officials, along with community leaders gathered in the Jack Abrams School hallway for a photo. Photo credit: Town of Huntington