TALLAHASSEE, Fla. /Florida Newswire/ -– Governor Charlie Crist yesterday invited Florida students in kindergarten through 12th grades to participate in the eighth annual Florida Hispanic Heritage Month student contests. The Governor also encouraged students, parents, teachers and principals to nominate full-time educators in elementary, middle or high schools for the Hispanic Heritage Month Excellence in Education Award. The contests are part of a month-long series of events planned to commemorate Florida’s Hispanic heritage. The theme for this year’s celebration is “Recognizing Florida’s Hispanic Heritage: Past, Present and Future.”

“Florida’s Hispanic community is a vital part of the historical, cultural and economic foundation of the Sunshine State,” Governor Crist said. “Hispanic Heritage Month is a special time to recognize the contributions our Hispanic-Americans and their impact on our state’s past, present and future.”

Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated nationwide beginning September 15, 2010. All contest entries must be by postmarked by September 20, 2010, and each student is limited to one entry per contest. Winners will be notified the week of October 4, 2010. Awards will be presented at the Governor’s annual Hispanic Heritage Month celebration in Tallahassee in October. All contest entries must be mailed to the Executive Office of the Governor, Attention: Hispanic Heritage Month Contests, 400 South Monroe Street, Suite LL-10, Tallahassee, Florida 32399.

Each winner will receive a prize which will be awarded at the Governor’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebration to be held in Tallahassee

About the Student Contests

Art Contest for Grades K-3 – The Hispanic Heritage Month art contest is open to all Florida students in grades K-3, and two winners will be selected. Please visit download complete guidelines and entry forms.

Grades K-3 Art Prompt: Luis Nuñez is a Hispanic-American artist living in Florida. How do his paintings “Egret and Mangroves,” “Blue Heron,” and “They’re Humans, Junior, Let’s Go” make you feel about the importance of protecting Florida’s wildlife, marshes, and beaches? Draw a picture of your favorite animal that is native to Florida, showing it in its natural habitat.

Essay Contest for Grades 4-12 – The Hispanic Heritage Month essay contest is open to all 4th through 12th grade students in Florida. Three winners will be selected: one elementary (grades 4-5) student, one middle (grades 6-8) student, and one high school (grades 9-12) student. Please visit to download complete guidelines and entry forms.

Grades 4 and 5 Writing Prompt: There are many well-known Hispanic Floridians who have made contributions to Florida’s history and economy. Discuss a well-known Hispanic Floridian whose contribution has made a difference in your life or your community.

Grades 6 – 12 Writing Prompt: Florida’s theme for this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month is “Recognizing Florida’s Hispanic Heritage: Past, Present and Future”. Interview and describe a Hispanic-American whom you know who has devoted his or her life to the service of others. How has this person’s life strengthened his or her community and Florida as a state?

About the Teacher Contest

Governor Crist’s annual Excellence in Education Award Contest is open to all Hispanic, full- time educators at an elementary, middle or high school in Florida. Three winners will be selected: one elementary (grades K-5), one middle school (grades 6-8) and one high school (grades 9-12).

About Hispanic Heritage Month

Several Latin American countries celebrate the anniversaries of independence during Hispanic Heritage Month. Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua celebrate independence on September 15. Mexico achieved independence on September 16, and Chile, on September 18. Hispanic Heritage Month has been celebrated in the United States since 1974 when President Gerald Ford issued a Presidential Proclamation extending Hispanic Heritage Week into a month-long celebration, from September 15 through October 15.

Additional information about Florida’s Hispanic heritage, contests and other related events is available on the Web site