As Hockaday Upper Schoolers walked into school on Feb. 13, they were shocked to find something rarely seen on the campus during school hours: boys. Boys and girls from 10 visiting schools, including Greenhill, Fort Worth Country Day, St. Mark’s and Cistercian, came to Hockaday to present their papers on Sandra Cisneros’ “The House on Mango Street” at the 2019 Interscholastic Colloquium.
The day began with an introduction by Upper School English Department Chair Janet Bilhartz and colloquium coordinator Dr. Jennifer Boulanger. After, sophomores Cata Masroca and Juana Tiscornia and drama teacher Emily Gray performed a version of a vignette mixing both English and Spanish lines.
Students and faculty then broke up into sessions separated by topics, like narrative voice and the American Dream, where presenters read their papers and discussed the book. While 19 Hockaday juniors and one sophomore presented their papers, Hockaday seniors also participated in the colloquium as hall monitors, discussants, and panel moderators. Junior Christine Kirby presented her paper on how the protagonist, Esperanza, changes her view of her house throughout the novel.
“Through being able to discuss my paper and the other papers of the other presenters in my room, I found it really interesting to get different perspectives,” Kirby said.
After two morning sessions, students returned to the Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Theater to hear the keynote address by Cisneros. In her speech, Cisneros noted that when one writes with love it will always be beautiful and encouraged writers to write not what they know but what they wish to forget. These two sentiments struck a chord with Boulanger and Kirby.
“This was super impactful because it hits you as a kind of truth and makes you think about what you want to forget and even how you would be able to make that into something amazing if given the chance,” Kirby said.
Once she finished her speech and took a few audience questions, Cisneros offered to stay behind to talk with anyone who wanted to talk to her personally. According to Boulanger, a huge crowd came over to tell the acclaimed author how the book affected them personally. Some even spoke to her in Spanish.
“I can’t believe this is happening. This is so wonderful that is happening,” Boulanger said.
Cisneros ate lunch with Hockaday juniors and seniors, and they were able to ask her questions and share with the author the impact the book had on them. Senior Nushah Rahman attended the lunch and even had Cisneros autograph her copy of “The House on Mango Street.”
“I was sitting one seat away from her, and it was almost surreal,” Rahman said.
Looking back on the event, Boulanger viewed the 2019 Interscholastic Colloquium as a huge success. She noted that the students, faculty and Cisneros herself enjoyed discussing the award-winning book.
“I know that Cisneros was overwhelmed by how impressive these kids were. That kids were working at this level with her work was just so striking to her,” Boulanger said.
“The House on Mango Street” author Sandra Cisneros delivers a keynote address to colloquium attendees.
Junior Isabella Quinones presents her paper on the protagonist’s narrative voice.
Juniors Jordan Walker and Richa Kapoor discuss “The House on Mango Street” during a colloquium session.
Upper School English teacher and colloquium coordinator Dr. Jennifer Boulanger welcomes colloquium participants to Hockaday.
Argentinian exchange students Cata Masroca and Juana Tiscornia perform a version of a vignette from “The House on Mango Street” at the welcoming program.
Story and Photos by Kate Woodhouse