NKSD, Hispanic community ‘hablan’ over dinner

POULSBO — North Kitsap School District board members, staff and teachers might not have been having a “conversacion en Español” last Thursday, but as far as the food was concerned, the area’s Hispanic community was the talk of the town.

Local Hispanic Americans celebrated the upcoming school year with NKSD personnel by showcasing their favorite ethnic dishes during a potluck at the district offices. The fine cuisine and friendly atmosphere brought about 60 people to the event.

NKSD assistant director of Learning Support Services Dixie Husser was thrilled to see the community come together for the occasion.

“This is a celebration of a new school year and a community get-together,” she said. “Members of the Hispanic community provided food for this potluck. School board members and teachers were in attendance. Everybody had a great time. The Hispanic community is very supportive of the district.”

Husser said the celebration gave new teachers a chance to meet with the members of the community they will start serving next week.

“This along with the orientation session where new teachers met with representatives from both of the tribes (Suquamish, Port Gamble S’Klallam) gives our a new teachers a chance to meet with the ethnic communities in the area,” she said.

Vinland Elementary Early Language Learner Coordinator Martha Little was likewise excited that the meet-and-greet, and eat, was so successful.

“This was an opportunity for everyone to introduce themselves to each other. It is the middle of summer and we had close to 60 people here today,” she said. “We want to inform parents about various types of school activities and programs. The goal is to meet the needs of children.”

Little said the language barrier is a tough hurdle to overcome for some Hispanic students.

“It’s important the school district is aware of the changing needs (of the Hispanic community),” she said. “It’s hard for them to feel included if they don’t speak the language. That’s why events like these are so important. It brings people together.”

Mario Perez, who was one of the coordinators of the potluck, said this was the third event in the past year where members of the Hispanic community have attended a function with NKSD staff.

“We started planning today’s event a few months ago,” he said. “Events like this make a difference. It breaks down walls and barriers. It’s a great thing.”

Perez said the potluck was an excellent way for the Hispanic community to connect with NKSD administrators.

“When a letter is sent home from the school there is always a signature at the bottom of the page,” he said. “Now they can put faces with the names they see. It helps open the lines of communication.”

Perez said partnerships between NKSD and Hispanic community are a great thing.

“The Hispanic community is growing here and that needs to be taken under consideration,” he said. “It’s important for future generations to know that we are all in this together as a team.”

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