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Marysville schools celebrate diversity


Christopher Andersson

Kyle Struiksma, right foreground, and Andrew Struiksma, right background, grab some Filipino food at the Marysville School District's Festival of World Cultures on May 18.

The Marysville School District hosted a variety of dancers, food and activities at their first Festival of World Cultures on May 18.

The event was held to celebrate the various types of diversity in the Marysville and Tulalip communities.

"The Equity, Diversity and Indian Education Department met with the English Language Learners Department and we decided we wanted to bring something to the school district and Marysville and Tulalip to bring in some excitement and some culture and diversity," said Deborah Parker, director of equity, diversity and Indian education at the district and a Tulalip Tribal member.

"We want to celebrate the many different cultures that make up Marysville and Tulalip," she said.

Community members were invited to the festival which included free food, performers, information booths and activities.

Local mothers helped visitors learn how to make paper flowers.

"We have a few schools that have a group of volunteer moms," said Wendy Messarina, Spanish liaison for the district.

"Once a month they do some cultural event and they're teaching kids how to make flowers here," she said.

Dancers from various cultures, such as Native American and Hawaiian, also performed at the festival.

"We love sharing our culture," said Tulalip Tribal member Terrance Sabbas, who performed some Native dances at the festival with his kids.

"The festival is great. The more exposure to different cultures the better," he said.

Food from various cultures was also available.

"I think maybe the most popular place is the food," said Jason Thompson, acting superintendent for the Marysville School District.

Local parent Andrew Struiksma said he enjoyed the festival.

"There's good food," he said. "There's lots of variety and you get to try a lot of different things."

This is the first time the district has had a festival designed to celebrate many different cultures, said Thompson.

"I think we're so lucky in Marysville and Tulalip and in the community to have diversity," he said. "This is the first time we've really put something together where we can really celebrate that."

He said he was happy with how the festival turned out.

Christopher Andersson

Seattle Sabbas dances at the Marysville School District's Festival of World Cultures on May 18.

"I'm really excited at the turnout and the number of people. And credit to Deborah and her team because they've done all this," said Thompson.

Parker said that people have been appreciative as well.

"We're getting some great feedback, saying 'if we had known about this earlier, I would have brought my family members,'" she said.

School officials hope that the festival will return next year, and Parker hopes that they can draw in more performers and participants.

"We tried to include dancers from all around the world. Because of time limitations this year we were only able to introduce some of the songs and dances, but we're hoping next year to even make this bigger and more exciting," said Parker.

"This is one of those events where people are saying 'well, next year we'll get so and so,' and I feel like it will grow next year because of that," said Thompson.


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