SM North holds first Virtual Hispanic Heritage Program

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Alexis Kelly

Josie Lenati films one of step dance practice routines after school. “Everyone is just so on top of it, it’s very rare that I take more than two takes,” Lenati said. “Having the B-roll where I can get different angles while the main camera is rolling, is really cool as well.”

Anna Miesner, Writer and Editor

On Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. SM North’s first virtual Hispanic Heritage Program uploads on KNDN’s youtube channel.The program was initially scheduled to be published on Nov. 13. Main program leader and video editor Senior Josie Lenati explains that the program was postponed after confusion over the recording. 

“Administration wanted to make sure we were clear on what safety procedures we followed,” Lenati said. “So we added in some disclaimers, and a few extra performances, before broadcasting to the school.” 

Since the start of the school year, ELA teacher Natalie Johnson-Berry, also the Hispanic Heritage sponsor, said she was hesitant to start preparing for the program. 

“We weren’t sure that we were going to do it,” Johnson-Berry said. “Then we decided that we’re going to do it virtually, given that this is some of their last year for seniors. We’ve been planning it since the end of September, and we would have a weekly meeting. ”  

Given that interaction was limited to one meeting a week, Johnson-Berry had some worries about pulling off the program. 

“One of our concerns is if people will have access to [the program] and who would be interested in doing the program,” Johnson-Berry said. We’re used to filling up the entire auditorium and so advertising and getting the message out to people is big.” 

This year Johnson-Berry received additional help inside the school from student-teacher Elizabeth Epstein.

“With Mrs. Epstein, we have a marketing group and we have an Instagram that one of the students started,” Johnson-Berry said. “We have it on Instagram, I’ve posted on my personal social media, we put it through an announcement on canvas.” 

Lenati ensures that they are doing everything to keep students safe while performing. 

“We keep our masks on at all times unless you’re on the stage performing, and that’s only for very few performances,” Lenati said. “The singers can have their mask off since everyone else is way more than six feet away from them. In the dressing rooms, they have to keep their masks on, and they sanitize everything before and afterward as a courtesy for everyone else.” 

Lenati, Junior Cecily Jimenez, and Senior Emily Venzor lead different portions of the program. As the recorder and video editor, Lenati has been working on a special addition to the program. 

“With this new medium I can do a little short film and have that be part of the program,” Lenati said. “My usual scary story is in my short film. I’m actually having Nico do a voiceover, and she’s going to narrate it in Spanish, and we’ll have English subtitles. I love being able to show a more gothic side of a culture, especially one that is not being put out. Highlighting a different legend from Latinx culture is really cool to do in this format.”

To ensure social distancing Lenati and a couple of other program leaders selected a designated time for students to come in and record their performances. Over three days students performed their acts after school while Lenati took multiple takes. 

“This year, [the program] is running a lot smoother than it normally does,” Lenati said. “Everyone is on the same page, we’re all working really hard together because we know this is much more difficult than what we would normally put on.”

Unlike their past live performances, Lenati believes that having a pre-recorded program may make the program more accessible. 

“Anyone can watch this at any time, it’s just not a one and done thing,” Lenati said. “It gives us more opportunities to send it out to families, friends, and other schools. To hopefully inspire people to try and do programs like this.” 

Overall, Lenati hopes that students take something positive after watching the program. 

“I hope that they learn something new,” Lenati said. “I hope they walk away with hope and feeling excited, joyful, and appreciative of what this wonderfully rich culture has to offer. I want them to be proud of what North students can accomplish, and I want them to have fun.”