Hispanic Heritage Month – September 15 to October 15
October 18, 2012
Pictured are Kevin Tobias of LHS, 3rd place; Terresita Klemm of Scottsbluff H.S., 1st place; and Maria Hernandez Galeana of Omaha's South Magnet High School, 2nd place.
Each year Ms. Chesley's English 2 Honors classes write an essay for the Hispanic Heritage Month Essay contest, a contest open to all Nebraska youth in grades 6-12. For the fifth year in a row, a Lexington student has placed in the contest. Kevin Tobias wrote an essay for this year's theme "My Local Champion" about his mother, Leticia Tobias, who owns and operates Twin Fashion, a local clothing store. Kevin placed third behind Terrisita Klemm, a junior from Scottsbluff High, and Maria Hernandez Galeana, a senior from Omaha's South Magnet High School. A blind jury of thirteen business people, teachers and community leaders from across the state judged this year's essays, a total of 192 essays from ten high schools and seven middle schools. Middle school student winners were also named for first, second and third places.
Accompanying Kevin to Lincoln on Friday, October 5th were Ramon Otero, Assistant Principal at Sandoz Elementary and English teacher Melanie Chesley. Kevin's parents Hugo and Leticia Tobias and his sister Elvia also attended the commemoration held in the Rotunda of the State Capitol. Mr. Otero serves as a commissioner for the Latino American Commission that sponsors the Hispanic Heritage celebration each year.
First Lady of Nebraska Sally Ganem awarded certificates and monetary awards to each of the six students. Ganem herself was recognized with a special award for her many years of service and dedication to education at all levels in Nebraska. Governor Dave Heineman read the proclamation designating September 15 to October 15 as Hispanic Heritage Month in Nebraska. After the ceremony all guests enjoyed a dinner prepared by students at North Star High School along with dancing by several multicultural groups.
Also honored at the ceremony were two individuals and two organizations, according to the Latino American Commission's Website. The Humanitarian Award was given to Jose Soto, Vice President for Access/Equity/Diversity at Southeast Community College for his lifelong dedication to promoting the Latino community; the Inspiration Award went to Dr. Sergio Wals, a political science and ethnic studies assistant professor at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln (UNL) for mentoring and raising awareness among his students for issues affecting the Hispanic and immigrant community; the Organization Award was granted to Justice for our Neighbors, a non-profit that provides free immigration legal services, education and advocacy to all immigrants; and the Event Award went to the organizers of Festival Hispano with the City of Columbus for educating the public-at-large and promoting Hispanic heritage to thousands of people.
Kevin's essay follows:
Lexington High School
English 2 Honors, pd. 4
September 14, 2012
Leticia Tobias: My Local Champion
What is a champion? A champion is someone who inspires everyone he orshe meets. A champion will change a person's thoughts and perspectives about different situations in a positive manner. It's important that every community has a local champion who possesses these traits, and Leticia Tobias possesses all of these qualities. She has inspired me to write about how she has affected my community.
Leticia Tobias inspires the community of Lexington in many ways. She always helps and encourages individuals in any activity or project they decide to work on and supports various groups, such as her church group, to help the city of Lexington in any way possible. Many people recognize her as a figure of respect and compassion, not just in Lexington but also in many towns in Nebraska. Giving up is not a phrase that she is familiar with, unless it's giving up her time to help someone or to become better in any given task she has to do. When she came to this town, she obtained a job at a clothing store and would always give her best effort to make the store better. Then one day, when a store was for sale in downtown Lexington, she bought it, and 11 years later, she is the proud owner of "Twin Fashion," a locally recognized clothing store. The opening of this store represented a huge step forward for all the Latinos living in Lexington.
The impact Leticia has had on this community is significant. When she came to Lexington, there were not very many Hispanic people with their own businesses. The only major businesses in town were Tyson, Nelson's Furniture, and other stores that have been in Lexington for many years, but after Twin Fashion established its presence as a local business, more Hispanic stores started to open. The new shops were bringing in people from different parts of the world and giving people the opportunity to buy international goods and learn about the diverse customs from different parts of the world, and I for one enjoyed this. Now Lexington is filled with diverse businesses owned and operated by people of different ethnicities and ideas.
Leticia knows that she has helped small businesses in Lexington prosper and grow. Citizens now have the option and opportunity to work in different occupations and earn a living doing what they want to do. Without the businesses in Lexington, Tyson would be the only business keeping Lexington, Nebraska on the map. Now, with all the local businesses in town, people don't have to rely on one company to provide money and food for everyone, and Leticia can proudly say she helped in this process.
Leticia Tobias is an inspirational person, to say the least, and I'm honored to be writing about her. She has changed the thoughts and ideas of many people living in Lexington. Leticia has helped her community flourish and in my mind is a local champion, and a great mother.
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