Starting next week, McHenry County College will celebrate Latino Heritage Month with an array of cultural events and -- for the second time -- a day specifically aimed at encouraging high school students to go to college.
Latino Heritage Month, which kicks off Monday and runs through Oct. 11, celebrates Latino culture and its traditions and highlights the contributions made by Latinos, officials said.
Latino Heritage Month at MCCMcHenry County College kicks off its Latino Heritage Month on Monday. Here are the events open to the public. The college is at 8900 Route 14 in Crystal Lake.
• 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Monday Sept. 17, Commons area, Building B.
The Kickoff Fiesta will feature Latin American food, a food demo by Chef Maddox of Le Titi de Paris, a showcase of artifacts from Latin America, flamenco dancers, a hands-on craft activity, giveaways and traditional Mexican desserts.
• 8 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, at Raue Center for the Arts, 26 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake.
Chicago-based ensemble Bandoleros will perform its blend of Middle Eastern sounds, Spanish flamenco and Latin flavors. $10 students tickets (go to the Student Life office); general public $16, $19, $22 (visit rauecenter.org)
• Noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3, Room 211, Building A.
Speech instructor Ron Compton will feature the life and work of famous Latino musician Rafael Méndez.
• Thursday, Oct. 11, 10 to 11:30 a.m. Luecht Conference Center, Building B; 2:30 to 3:50 p.m., Room 112, Building A; and 6 to 7:30 p.m., Room 166-167, Building B.
Aztec Stories by Michael Heralda will showcase ancient oral traditions and native indigenous instruments in a lively performance.
About 200 high schoolers participated in the first Latino Empowerment Conference last year; this year's turnout on Sept. 21 is expected to reach 300, said Sonia Reising, MCC's coordinator of multicultural programs. Students will hear from guest speakers and attend workshops on topics such scholarships and financial aid, degrees and certificates available, and ways to explore different careers, Reising said.
"We want to let them know that the opportunity is all about them. They have to take responsibility for themselves and take responsibility for doing the research and getting access to the resources," she said.
The conference will include a parade of Latin American flags performed by students from Woodstock North High School.
MCC student Mario Cordoba, of Crystal Lake, was among a group from the MCC student organization Latinos Unidos who helped the Latino Heritage Month committee organize the lineup of events.
"I'm really excited overall about the whole month," Cordoba said, adding he's invited his parents to attend some of the events. "My culture is from Mexico, and family is everything for me. That's what I hope to express to everyone that I meet, that all families are united in this."
About 10 percent of students at McHenry County College are Latino, many of them the first in their families to go to college, Reising said. She added that she was especially happy that the college was able to partner with Raue Center for the Arts to offer discounted student tickets for a performance on Sept. 29.