Families and friends celebrated the Hispanic and Latino communities Tuesday night with recognition through awards to community members and students.
The community members gathered at City Hall to recognize these leading members in the Latino and Hispanic communities in Bloomington.
Students and adults alike were honored.
The Commission on Hispanic and Latino Affairs includes members appointed by Bloomington Common Council and Mayor John Hamilton.
The commission works to develop committees to address the challenges of members of the Hispanic and Latino populations in the areas of education, health, employment as well as celebrate Latino and Hispanic history within the Bloomington community.
The ceremony began with remarks from Hamilton, who apologized for his lack of Spanish speaking, but did attempt to speak part of his speech in the language.
“It is so good to be in a community that continues to grow and diversify,” Hamilton said. “It’s good for our schools, our city, our future and our stomachs.”
The crowd laughed in response.
The awards ceremony gave out annual awards within the community.
These awards included the Latino Agency/Organization Award, Outstanding Latino Community Advocate, Latino Leader Award and Outstanding Latino High School Students.
“Our city is committed to being a place of welcome and inclusion to Hispanic and Latino families,” Hamilton said. “We are becoming a more diverse and more interesting city because of all this.”
Israel Herrera, member of the commission, said the commission was established to help promote and support Latino and Hispanic families in the Bloomington community.
He said the medal recipients took great symbolic honor in the medals. He said one student, Kenobi Ramirez, even drove from Nebraska to accept his award, after moving there at the end of last year.
Jan Bergeson, director of secondary education for MCCSC, said the largest language minority at MCCSC schools are the Spanish speaking students.
She said these awards are important to encourage students to keep working.
Bergeson said in the MCCSC this year, there are 40 different languages spoken by limited English proficient students. She said out of the 311 limited English proficient students, 89 students are Spanish speaking.
“Students who attend schools with a diverse population can develop an understanding of children from other backgrounds,” Bergeson said. “Diversity embraces the richness of human differences.”
Lucia Davila and Marcela Garcia of Bloomington High School South, Sarah Graves of Bloomington High School North and Isla Weber of Edgewood High School — all high school seniors — were presented with the Outstanding Latino High School Student diplomas, recognizing their leadership skills or distinguishing their skills in academics, arts or athletics.