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Cultural Unity for U-Nite: A preview of the annual cultural heritage show taking place on March 15th and the work that goes into it


By Courtland Blake

A celebration of students’ cultures, traditions, and heritage is what drives U-Nite, a performance that showcases students’ various abilities and allows them to express their pride in their family’s traditions and customs.

U-Nite consists of a fashion show with models representing numerous countries, performances including traditional dances and songs, and a reception with food from around the world. Back in 2012, Mrs. Liz Akers, a history teacher at our school, decided to start the show when she was approached by a student who wanted to have an opportunity to display her Indian culture through dance.
“She had been traditionally a trained Indian dancer from India and so she wanted the option to share that. We thought about it and we were like, ‘Oh yeah this would be a great thing to have,’” said Akers.
Two years ago, U-Nite didn’t have enough support for the show to be put on, but last year Mrs.Tammy Carter and Mrs. Rian Vanzego took the reins and started the show back up.

“It’s a very powerful event and it gives the children who ordinarily aren’t seen by the school and don’t participate in other sports and activities an opportunity. It gives them a chance to show their support, style, and talent,” said Carter about why she decided to help start U-Nite again.
The show is not only a way for students to get involved, but for the community as well. “The community, they come to the event and we have different organizations that bring their whole group here to support events at the schools. Restaurants help by supplying food for the venue and serving their own food for the tasting from different cultures and countries,” said Carter.

Behind the scenes, countless hours of work go into the show. There are about eight practices and rehearsals that the organizers run and attend, along with other meetings and private practices with certain dance groups. The U-Nite team this year consists of about eight teachers who all work together to organize and put it together.
“We have meetings for organizing, food, the performance, the models, and the volunteers. We make contact with people outside of the school to help, we make contact with the parents, it’s a lot of work,” said Luisa Miranda, one of the committee chairs of the show.

“I can’t even tell you how many hours go into it, between rehearsals, recruiting, and the planning and logistics of it,” said Akers, who is helping with the show again this year.
Although it’s a lot of work for these teachers, they do it because they love what it provides for the students and the community. “It gives [students] a sense of connectivity to the school, of being a part of something and an outlet to display and share their own cultures and ideas in a safe space where they can shine,” said Akers

Miranda reflected similar sentiments about the show. “U-Nite is like a celebration, a Tuscarora family celebration. We celebrate that we are different in a few things, like culture or religion or way of thinking, but at the same time we belong to the same family,” said Miranda.

Make sure you go out to see the show on March 15th at 7pm in the auditorium or the snow date on March 19th.

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