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Klahowya honors Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month

A variety of groups performed May 24 during a celebration of Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month held at Klahowya Secondary School. The event included poetry, dance and a host of other activities designed to cultural insights and embrace diversity.  - Patrick McDonough/Staff photo
A variety of groups performed May 24 during a celebration of Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month held at Klahowya Secondary School. The event included poetry, dance and a host of other activities designed to cultural insights and embrace diversity.
— image credit: Patrick McDonough/Staff photo

May 24 saw the Klahowya Secondary School auditorium transformed into a celebration of Asian Pacific-Islanders heritage month.

The stage came alive with poetry, Taiko drumming and multiple dances including Okinawan Eisa dancing, a Samoan dance and a Hawaiian Hula dance among other activities.

The event was held to celebrate and pay tribute to the contributions made by generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders to American history and culture and to educate the community about diversity.

The theme of the event was “We Gather Together… and This Is What We Do.”

In 1978 the U.S. Congress passed a resolution to commemorate Asian American Heritage Week during the first week of May. In 1990 Congress voted to expand the celebration throughout the entire month of May, and in 1992 May was permanently designated for the event.

The month was chosen to commemorate the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to arrive in America on May 7, 1843. The month was also chosen to remember the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869 and to honor Asian efforts in its completion.

The event is one in a series of offerings by the school district to encourage understanding and diversity. Past programs have included Native American History Month and Black History Month.

Coordinators for the event said the celebration was held to educate the community and share Asian Pacific Islander culture with attendees.

Epiphany Nick, a senior at Central Kitsap High School who contributed to the event with a Samoan dance, said her mother had taught her the dance at a young age.

“I am Miss Silverdale for this year and my platform is unity in the community and so I truly enjoy this and all of the diversity programs that we have,” she said. “Being able to see something you have never seen before or is foreign to you helps people to understand different cultures better and accept them in that way.”

Jodie Collins, who is the Program Coordinator for Multicultural and Student Programs at Olympic College, said the college was invited to participate as a means of building a bridge between the school district and the college and encourage continuing education and diversity.

“I think it is great entertainment and great information,” Collins said. “It helps people be aware of the different cultures in the community.”

An intermission held at the event offered information on Lei Making, the Japanese Interment during World War II and origami making as well as a host of other activities.

Jeni Zapatka, who is a curriculum specialist for the Central Kitsap School District and an organizer for the event said the celebration was part of the school district's efforts toward embracing diversity.

“We are trying to do what we can to encourage cultural awareness,” she said. “We have a large Asian Pacific Islander population in Central Kitsap Schools and we wanted to help educate the community about their cultures.”

 

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