School fiesta unites Anglos, Latinos
Beatriz Vega and Alexandra Ruiz spent most of Thursday in the dark. The two danced – and waited – Cinco de Mayo away in school auditoriums and cafeterias up and down the Roaring Fork Valley as part of the dance group Aspen Santa Fe Ballet Folklorico. By the time Vega and Ruiz showed up at Glenwood Springs Middle School, they were on their fourth performance of the day. But they didn’t complain. They waited patiently with the rest of the dancers in the rear of the darkened cafeteria for their turn to take the stage and end a long Cinco de Mayo.The celebration at GSMS was a first. The school has made a concerted effort to help connect Latino families with the school and to unite Anglo and Latino communities this year, said Alejandra Rico-Jessup, the school’s Latino community liaison.The Cinco de Mayo celebration certainly succeeded in bringing Latino families to the school; every cafeteria seat was filled.The celebration also succeeded to a certain degree in uniting two cultures. Guadalupe Rubio, who is a native of Chihuahua, Mexico, has a daughter in sixth grade, visited the school for the first time Thursday, she said.José Delatorre attended in part to support the school, in part to learn share cultures. “I learn from people, and I guess people learn from me,” he said. Kristin Carlson attended with her daughter, Isabel, a member of GSMS’s Cultural and Community Connections Club. “I wish I spoke Spanish,” Carlson said over the dance music. “I wanted to support (Isabel’s) classmates and get to know each other a little bit.”Events like Thursday’s Cinco de Mayo celebration seem critical to uniting two cultures that are often separate in schools. “Ever since I’ve worked here it’s been so separate,” said English Language Learners teacher Kate Butcher. There isn’t tension, she said, but “The kids naturally separate themselves.””As both our populations grow, I feel it’s crucial we grow together,” she said. The inaugural Cinco de Mayo potluck certainly seemed like a step in the right direction.
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