Noche Latina celebrates Hispanic culture at East


Courtesy of Allie Rosen

Members of the club, as well as their family and friends came together to honor Hispanic heritage.

On Friday, February 1, as snow swirled in the frigid winds just outside, Cherry Hill East students and their families celebrated a warm evening of food, friends and festivities at Noche Latina (“Latino Night”), an event dedicated to showcasing the vibrancy of Hispanic culture.

This was the third consecutive year the Latinos y Amigos club held Noche Latina, but it was the first time the event was open to the whole school, not just club members. Many students invited their parents and younger siblings as well.

“It’s a way we can share…a little bit of our culture with the rest of the community through dance, music and food,” said Alma Martinez (’20), the club president.

The Latinos y Amigos officers and members decorated Cafeteria 1 with richly colorful crepe paper streamers, balloons, rose petals and a floral photo booth. On the dance floor, a DJ played lively Spanish music while attendees formed conga lines and danced the salsa.

The club raised money by raffling off gift baskets and by selling authentic, homemade Hispanic food. Volunteers served arroz con gandules (rice with peas), pastelón (plantain lasagna), beef and cheese empanadas, tamales and flan. According to Martinez, the dishes originate from a variety of countries — Spain, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Guatemala — reflecting the diversity within East students’ Hispanic backgrounds.

Though the weather was bleak, the club members didn’t let that dim their spirits; they lit up the room with color and energy.

“Hispanic parties are so fun,” said Paloma McMurtry (’19), the vice president of Latinos y Amigos. “Whenever one of the cousins or uncles has a birthday party and we have a huge cookout, it’s such an amazing time. You get to eat and dance and listen to amazing music, so we wanted to reflect that at East [through Noche Latina]…we’re showing other people how Hispanics get down when it comes to partying.”

The event was the culmination of contributions from all club members over several weeks of tireless planning at lunch, during study halls and after school. According to the Latinos y Amigos advisor Mrs. Martha Pérez, the money raised will help the students go on a field trip to New York to see a play in Spanish. In the years to come, the club hopes to continue making Noche Latina aún más grande.