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Mville student plans Cinco de Mayo celebration

Marysville Junior High School ninth-grader Jessica Tapia is organizing a Cinco de Mayo celebration at the State Avenue campus for Friday, May 4.  Here Tapia, right, poses with school principal Judy Albertson. -
Marysville Junior High School ninth-grader Jessica Tapia is organizing a Cinco de Mayo celebration at the State Avenue campus for Friday, May 4. Here Tapia, right, poses with school principal Judy Albertson.
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MARYSVILLE A local student is trying to bring people together this year, organizing the first-ever Cinco de Mayo Community Festival at Marysville Junior High School.
Jessica Tapia is a ninth-grader at the State Avenue campus and she has been bothered by the divisive nature of discussions about culture and race recently. A soft-spoken 15-year-old, Tapia wants to bring people together, the folks who ordinarily dont hang out, talk or play together and she thinks the annual Mexican holiday is a good place to change that.
Theres some American people and Hispanics who dont get along, Tapia noted. American people and Hispanics can come together and not have this gap between them.
She felt that Americans often celebrate Cinco de Mayo more than in Mexico, but they just use the date as an excuse to party, and dont realize the importance of the holiday to her familys heritage. Many Americans erroneously equate the holiday to the United States Independence Day, but the Fifth of May celebrates the decisive Battle of Puebla over French forces on that day in 1862. Mexicos Independence Day is celebrated on Sept. 16.
We fought a war to be independent, we wanted to be free like the United States wanted to be free from Britain, Tapia explained.
Tapia is leading efforts to hold a celebration a day early, on Friday, May 4 from 5:30 - 8 p.m. in the school gym and cafeteria. She is looking for help from the community and wants everybody to pitch in. Plans are for food, drinks and activities, with music high on the list. Shes got a lead on a teen Mariachi band but wants anybody who can to call or email her advisor Jim Strickland to see how they can help.
Strickland said that Tapia was the first to speak up to the student body about the concerns and feelings many of her Hispanic peers have, and noted that also she founded the school Latino Club.
Jessica pinpointed a few of those and we made some announcements, Strickland said. She got the ball rolling.
According to him Tapia embodies the saying still waters run deep because shes not loud and flashy but she always puts her shoulder to the task and gets it done. He likes the fact that Tapia is trying to involve so many different parts of the community to make the event a success rather than just dishing up a meal. They would like to see if any restaurants might donate food, or businesses to sponsor tables with food, activities or crafts. One table might teach basic Spanish phrases for example, while at another community members hold forth on their experiences.
We need members of the Hispanic community to tell their stories. Just get to know your Mexican neighbors, Strickland elaborated, adding that the group is sending out flyers to local restaurants. Were hoping that they will adopt a table.
Plans are still evolving, but there should be a good indoor soccer game and a DJ playing music in the gym while food and other activities are offered next door in the cafeteria. Anyone with more ideas or help to offer is invited to contact Tapia or Strickland by phone at 425-870-1631 or by email at Jim_Strickland@msvl.k12.wa.us.

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