Alaska's Ryan Middle School event celebrates cultural backgrounds

FAIRBANKS — Ryan CAfE Night, a new event at Ryan Middle School, kicked off Friday evening with the thumping rhythm of Hawaiian music accompanied by swaying hips and flowing hand gestures to the delight of students, families and staff.

CAfE is an acronym for Cultivating Awareness for Everyone, explained Kristie Calvin, assistant principal intern at the middle school.

Shortly after coming to Ryan, Calvin noticed the great variety of cultural backgrounds among the student population and thought that celebrating and sharing those differences would provide an interesting and fun event.

“We need to celebrate the diversity,” she said. “So we are celebrating the diversity.”

Two of the three Jennings sisters, Hope 14, and Destinee, 13, are Ryan students and were part of the first act, performing Hawaiian dances and Samoan songs in harmony with older sister, Princess, 16.

Of Samoan descent, the girls were born in Hawaii and have been studying, singing, dancing and sharing Hawaiian and Samoan culture since they were very young under the tutelage of their mother.

The sisters were just the first entertainers of the evening which also featured Etsuko and Jazz trio, African hand drums, Fairbanks Christian Center’s Youth Choir, Pavva Inupiaq Dancers and the JOM Dance Group.


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