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From September 15 to October 15, the United States celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month. This national celebration spans the annual independence celebration for several countries across Latin America and the Caribbean, including Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, and Chile. The first official recognition in the United States started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week, and was later expanded to a full-month celebration in 1988. 

At Green Dot Public Schools, we celebrate the diversity and excellence of all of our students throughout the year. The “Ánimo” in our California schools’ names is a call to action; a promise that with vigor, mind, spirit, valor, and courage we can overcome any odds.

From school namesakes to difference-making Alumni, here are five stories that celebrate Latinx excellence across our network of schools. 

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Ellen Ochoa’s Journey to Space Inspires a New Generation of Students

One of our top-performing middle schools is named after space pioneer Ellen Ochoa, who continues to fuel the dreams of students across the world. In 1993, Ellen Ochoa became the first Latinx woman to travel into space, aboard NASA’s Discovery Space Shuttle. As a mission specialist, she completed four separate shuttle missions, spending more than 900 hours in space. 

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The Ánimo Voices Writing and Art Competition — First Place, Writing, High School

This year's Ánimo Voices Competition  theme challenged students to reflect on a time when they, someone they know, or someone they’ve learned about, helped address something wrong in the world. This heartfelt poem by Yesenia Zamora, a student at Ánimo South Los Angeles Charter High School, pinpoints the struggles of a Latinx migrant within the United States.

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Why This Founding Green Dot Student Came Back to South LA

Green Dot Alumna Daisy Estevez attended Ánimo Ralph Bunche Charter High School as a founding student, and later became a teacher at Ánimo Mae Jemison Charter High School. Estevez noted how she was the only latina in many of her college classes, but made a commitment to serve students of color in her community. 

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The Ánimo Voices Writing and Art Competition — First Place Writing, Middle School

Our middle school students are also keen on sharing their history through writing. This short story by Amy Manzo Mendez, a student at Ánimo Florence-Firestone Charter Middle School memorializes the life and legacy of Cesar Chavez and the impact the inspiring hero had on the Latinx community.

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Rising So That Others Can: Meet Alumna Yaritza Gonzalez

An Alumna of Ánimo Inglewood Charter High School, Yaritza Gonzalez rose above obstacles and attended Dartmouth College. Even through her rising success, Gonzalez never forgot her Latina roots. As she reflected in her essay published on our blog,  “I use my privilege to create pathways for more members of my community to pursue and thrive in college.” Today, She serves on the board of  Dartmouth’s Los Angeles Alumni Club and the Latinx Alumni Association.