¡Felíz día de la Batalla de Puebla!

By Leslie Peña, Spanish

Growing up in Mexico, Cinco de Mayo was something we learned about in history class…the day when the Mexican army, against all odds, defeated the French in the city of Puebla in 1862.

In the early 1860s, Mexico owed a significant debt to France. Napoleon III, sent troops to overtake Mexico City. On their way to Mexico City, they had to go through the city of Puebla. 

When General Charles Latrille de Lorencez’s 6,000 troops of French soldiers met General Ignacio Zaragoza’s Mexican troops, Zaragoza’s smaller and less equipped Mexican army held off French troops in the Battle of Puebla.

I do not remember it being a special celebration or festive day. We did not even get to miss school and all businesses were open, since it is not an official holiday.

This holiday is mainly celebrated in the city Puebla, and only in a few other places in the country where military parades take place but not parties or festivities.

Often in the U.S. I have encountered people wishing me Happy Independence Day on Cinco de Mayo. Mexican Independence is on September 16th and that is indeed a huge celebration!

What I have learned since moving to the U.S. is that the hispanics and Mexican Americans adopted Cinco de Mayo as their own holiday instead of Mexican Independence. This goes back to when the news of the Battle of Puebla reached California Latinos, especially residents of Hispanic origin, who were glad for the failure of the French plan to help the Confederacy.

Nowadays, it has still become a fun thing to do to get together with my Mexican friends and enjoy our favorite treats on this day since it is such a huge celebration in the U.S.

In my Spanish classes, I have been using this opportunity every year to explain the difference between Cinco de Mayo, or as we call it in Mexico: “The Day of the Battle of Puebla” and Mexican Independence day on September 16th when Mexico became independent from Spain.

On Mexican Independence in September we get to see in class when the Mexican president relives the chant for Independence (el grito de Dolores) from the presidential balcony facing the crowd.

This year at Grace, we went over all of these historic facts and cleared some of the common misconceptions. We had a competitive game of accurately labeling the historic facts and main historic figures as well as a puzzle. The winners who completed this correctly got to take home a “make your own conchas” kit by La Newyorkina’s Mexico city born Chef Fany Gerson. 

The winners of the make your own conchas kit were eighth graders Nate B., Estelle V. and Clara T. and sixth graders Ava C. (remote) and Nina F.

Nate B. Holding his Prize

Everyone in my Spanish class got to taste three different traditional Mexican pastries: orejas, garibaldis and conchas. Due to covid some of our traditional celebrations, such as a “papel picado” workshop and a conchas baking class have been postponed but are still in the works for later this month.

¡Felíz día de la Batalla de Puebla!

Links:

Fany Gerson’s Concha Baking Class Video

La Newyorkina’s Concha Recipe

Papel Picado How to Video

IBM’s Women in Math

By Elsa Hepner, Head of Middle School

In March of 2019, Karen Uhlenbeck became the first woman to receive the Abel Prize, which is often referred to as the “Nobel Prize of Math.” With her win, Uhlenbeck further substantiated what educators have long known to be true: women have a prominent and promising role in the field of mathematics. 

Earlier this month, as part of Community Week, fifth grade students were visited by women mathematicians from IBM. Organized by fifth grade teacher Margaret Meyer and Grace parent Michelle Peluso, the event promoted the important role  of women in math. The presenters spoke of their love for mathematics and how it led them to where they are today. The passion with which they described the field was contagious. 

Rose K. ’28 remarked, “It was really cool! I loved that we heard from women specifically talking about math since you so often hear about men and what they’re doing. They made me realize that math is everywhere.”

To illustrate that patterns and numbers are all around us, the speakers led the students in a variety of games and activities. One such activity involved an example with which the students were very familiar, TikTok. The mathematicians described the elegant algorithms that work “behind the scenes,” determining what content viewers will see as they click and scroll.

Math teacher Amber Leung particularly enjoyed this activity,  in which students’ knowledge of equivalency and proportion were put to the test. “The students were social media data analysts who had to decide which videos they should advertise more heavily so that their viewers would keep watching and in turn the company could keep making more money. It was so wonderful for the students to put their fifth grade math skills in action and in cleverly relevant scenarios!”