Padre Strong assembly celebrates diversity at MDN
Marcos de Niza High School capped off TUHSD #SpreadLove Week with a Padre Strong assembly to promote the acceptance and celebration of diversity on campus.
The event, which was planned by members of MDN's Student Council, under the direction of Lenica Ruiz, began with the sounds of "La Marcha" performed live by Mariachi Las Panteras de Oro, a mariachi made up of students from Maryvale High School in the Phoenix Union High School District. While they played, a procession of 39 flags were carried into the gym. Principal Sean McDonald led the march with the American flag. Staff and students followed behind him, escorted by preschool students from the Marcos de Niza Early Learning Center. The flags are symbols of the 39 nations represented on the school's campus.
Members of TUHSD's JROTC presented the colors and the Marcos de Niza Chamber Choir led the packed gym with the National Anthem.
The MDN Women's Choir followed with a powerful performance of "Lineage" by Margaret Walker. The students sang while Choir Director Darin Shryock played the drums. In the 1930's, at age 19, Walker was part of the African-American literary movement in Chicago and the poem symbolizes the strength of our female ancestors.
The Marcos gym was mesmerized by the Deer Dance performed by members of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. No photography is allowed for this ancient ceremony in which the dancer, (a student at sister school Tempe High), wears a deer headdress and his movements imitate a deer, while drums are played and words are sung by elders to honor nature and the desert. After the performance, one of the elders addressed the students, sharing that he was one of the first students to attend Marcos. He told them it was Yaqui students who designed the original Marcos shield and the Padre mascot.
A group of Polynesian dancers also performed and so did the Black Student Union Step Team from sister school Mountain Pointe, Step is an art form that originates from Africa and the body is used an instrument to produce sounds through a mixture of footsteps, hand claps, and spoken words.
MDN Student Body President Braylen Drew introduced a student-produced video which posed the question across campus, "Do you know the difference between nationality and ethnicity?"
The assembly's finale featured special guest Sincerely Collins. The rapper, whose real name is Kyle, grew up just down the street from Marcos and attended Dobson High School. With the students, he shared his own experiences with diversity and encouraged them to accept what makes them unique and be proud of it. He took questions from the audience, threw out t-shirts to the crowd and then brought the house down with a performance of his hit song, "Possible," which is about being passionate about something and living out your dream. And when it was time to head back to class, he promised the students he would return at lunch time to meet them and take photos. And he did.