District 211 schools collaborate to bring Hispanic artwork to the community
Students at Conant and Schaumburg high schools know what Hispanic culture means to them.
And they're not just sharing it with classmates -- they're taking the message to the community.
At Green Joe Coffee in Schaumburg, the students' words and art now cover the walls for all to see: a display as vibrant as the culture itself.
"We are a diverse group of Hispanics. We are right in our ways, and each have our individual characteristics," said Lucy Sanchez, a Schaumburg High School senior and Latinos Unidos member who works at Green Joe. "It brought joy to see it showcased."
It was Sanchez who helped hatch the Hispanic heritage idea when art teachers Erin Garrity-Duffey of Conant and Jessica Aulisio of Schaumburg met at Green Joe to brainstorm their plan for the second year of an art collaboration between the two Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 schools.
In the 2020-2021 school year, the teachers solicited student art under the theme "Community" to display at Green Joe at a time when many businesses remained closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year, they eagerly took Sanchez's idea to the schools' Heritage Class teachers and the sponsors of Latinos Unidos, then opened the art show to anyone who wanted to participate.
Students at Conant and Schaumburg were encouraged to submit entries of poetry, free writing, reflections, journal entries, paintings, drawings, photography or a combination of one or more art forms, all based on answering the question, "What does Hispanic Heritage mean to you?"
They received 56 submissions, then spread them across the floor of a school hallway to look for ways in which the images and writing could be interconnected for a cohesive display.
"The purpose of this project is to appreciate and advanced our knowledge of Hispanic heritage by amplifying the voices and experiences of our Hispanic students through the arts," Garrity-Duffey and Aulisio wrote in the entry form.
Their hope now is to take the display beyond Green Joe and solicit even more submissions, with the intention of highlighting Hispanic student voices throughout the community year-round.
"This is only the beginning," Sanchez said. "It will have more voices, and I can't wait to see it."
Green Joe Coffee is at 1459 W. Schaumburg Road in Schaumburg and is open from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. The artwork is on display whenever the shop's doors are open.