The celebration of Nicaraguan Independence Day is a tradition that has been ongoing for decades since the founding of the school in 1944. Nowadays, the event takes place at the Covered Athletic Area (CAA), but back in the 2000s, when the CAA was but a speck of dirt, the event was held in what is now the basketball courts next to the pool locker rooms. Back in the day, those basketball courts were the grounds to a type of auditorium with hollow walls and small fans for air circulation. Through the ages, the celebration has been organized by the teachers from the Spanish department and made to last between an hour and an hour and a half. Elementary and Secondary have always had separate shows, with the Secondary show following a few minutes after Elementary’s.
The date of the show must always fall accordingly with Nicaragua’s independence dates, which are September 14th and 15th, dates which the entire country gets off. Which days will be given off and the exact date of the show is determined by the school principals. The Spanish and Music Departments work directly with students to create various performances, all based upon Nicaraguan culture. Each grade does a different activity, whether it be a song, dance, poem, etc. For Elementary, it is mandatory for all students to participate in their grade’s performance but for Secondary, it is optional and sometimes even exclusive.
On the afternoon of Tuesday September 11th, A.N.S. personnel prepared for two hours to set up the huge stage structure and accompanying backdrop banner so the grades could rehearse for the final show. Elementary gets a rehearsal during the school day, meanwhile, Secondary participants must meet after school to practice their acts. We interviewed Ms. Claudia Andino, the ANS Admissions and Events Coordinator, about the logistics of the event. “250 chairs are set up plus 12 which are placed on stage for some music performances. We also have nine bleachers for students which must be labeled.” Most of these are set up the day before so that the participants can get a better idea and hold a rehearsal which mimics the day-of. Rehearsals are imperative, as they allow staff to notice the requirement of any additional item or improve certain aspects of both the set up and the show itself.
At 7:35 A.M. on Wednesday, September 12th, the Elementary Independence Day celebration began. The Pre-school and Kinder areas did a separate show at the basketball court next to the playground which consisted of 8 acts. Each act consisted of a dance from a traditional Nicaraguan song (mainly marimba genre) or a song related to the country.
The entirety of Elementary from first to fifth grade, had traditional Nicaraguan breakfasts after their shows. This year, instead of using the CAA, Elementary students held their shows in their respective classrooms. Each student from each class was assigned to bring a certain item so the whole class contributed to composing a traditional Nicaraguan breakfast. Parents and family members were all invited to watch and participate in small activities which varied from singing and dancing to coloring and craft making. Fourth grade in particular was in charge of the Tiger Meeting; this year with a brand new format. The students elaborated various projects and posters on Nicaragua including national symbols, typical foods, the country’s history, and it’s wonderful landscapes. All primary students were able to take a trip to the fourth grade hallway to observe and learn about Nicaragua’s beauty and history.
On the other side of the school, the secondary show began at roughly 8:30 A.M. It opened with Ms. Dina Gonzalez, director of the Spanish department, leading the promise to the flag followed by the national anthem.
Sixth grade girls performed the first act of the show with “Palomita Güasiruca”. This is a traditional Nicaraguan folklore song written by the ever so famous Nicaraguan singer-songwriter, Carlos Mejía Godoy. The song’s title literally translates to “Dovey Dove” as “palomita” is the Spanish word for small dove and “güasiruca” is taken from the indigenous word for dove used in the department of Matagalpa.
Seventh graders then took the stage to sing “Yo soy la flor de sacuanjoche” by Nicaraguan artist Flor Urbina. This song incorporates all elements of Nicaraguan nature and folklore, from the bird to the anthem to famous landmarks. The title itself translates to “I am the flower of plumeria.” You might recognize plumerias as a staple of Hawaiian culture, however, they also grow throughout Central America and in Nicaragua in particular, are the national flower known as “sacuanjoche.”
Three eighth grade participants performed a historical skit to recap exactly how Nicaragua got its independence. Ninth grade students did a dramatic recital of the song “Yo te amo Nicaragua” or “I love you Nicaragua” by once again, Carlos Mejía Godoy. This song is Mejía Godoy’s ode to Nicaragua and in his words, composed “in honor of all Nicaraguans…”
Eleventh grade students made sure to represent the Caribbean through their dance to “Mayaya La Sinki” by Dimensión Costeña, a song based off the Palo de Mayo festival. Palo de Mayo, or “May Pole” is a festival from the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua, originating in Bluefields, it is a celebration to welcome rain, production, and new life as the rainy season begins. Palo de Mayo is known to include very scandalous and colorful dances, even having its own designated genre of music. As a contrast to the rest of the more serene and calm traditional dances, this performance sure livened things up.
The geography class of Ms. Ester Palacios, composed of mostly eighth grade students, danced to the peaceful tune of “Nicaragua Nicaragüita” by yet again, Carlos Mejía Godoy. With their long and colorful huipiles (traditional Nicaraguan dress) the girls showed their appreciation for the beauties and sights of the country.
Seniors, in their last dance at ANS, performed to “La mora limpia” by Justo Santos. Donning white huipiles or guayaberas (typical Nicaraguan men’s cotton shirt) with red or blue accents, and with their elegant and synchronized steps, our seniors began to close the show with this lyric-less tune.
Carlota Navarrete bravely took the podium on the behalf of the entire tenth grade class. She performed a self-written speech called “Homenaje a la patria” a tribute to Nicaragua. Carlota allowed us to interview her about the process of creating such a well-redacted and impactful speech. It took half an hour for her to brainstorm her speech and another hour to write it. Her decision to write it came upon her desire to participate in the show and demonstrate her love for Nicaragua, however, when her grade could not come to terms for an act to perform, she was asked by Ms. Dina Gonzalez to compose a piece by herself and represent the entire grade. Carlota was honored and inspired by this request and with the guidance of Ms. Dina and very little time, was able to come up with her masterpiece. A source of inspiration and determination as said by Carlota was that “When we talk about where we’re from, some people are ashamed to say they are from Nicaragua. Just because we’re considered a third world country. The thing is they don’t take into account what made us earn that title. Yes we may be a poor country, but we are still standing, no matter what we’ll always persevere.”
Being a 15-year old girl and having to get up and talk by yourself in front of over a hundred people can be a pretty daunting task, but Carlota was brave and performed flawlessly. She did admit to us that she asked a friend to wait for her in a corner offstage just in case she cried, however, when she got on the stage things turned out to be different. She revealed that “When I got up on stage I read it without fear because why should I be nervous when I am talking about my beautiful Nicaragua.” She was there not only to represent her grade, but our brothers and sisters from all over Nicaragua. When asked how it felt to finally get her words out she replied “Amazing. When you truly believe in something, the fear of speaking the truth simply evaporates.” Carlota would like to thank Ms. Dina for all her support and has a message for anyone who reads this, “Do not turn your heads when your country needs you. You grew up here, your country gave you a place to build a house, to build a life. The most you can do is take care and appreciate and love your homeland. Let’s be real Nicaraguans.”
You can read the complete Spanish version of Carlota’s speech by clicking here.
Finally, the entire 2019 senior class took the stage to perform their final act at our beloved school. Together, they sang “Solo le pido a Dios” or “I only ask God” by Argentinian singer-songwriter Leon Gieco. Given the country’s current political situation, this song has come to the popular eye as a shout for help, remorse, and homage for all the fallen Nicaraguans since April 19th, 2018. Leaving the audience with this reflectful song, the 2018 ANS Independence Day celebration came to an end.