By Staff Writer Eliza Esquibel
Graphics by Andrew Magyar
Timberline is a very diverse school, with its students representing many different cultures. At the end of each year, several of these cultures are displayed by the students in a cultural awareness assembly. Throughout the rest of the year, however, these students can often be found in the community sharing their cultures. Members of the cultural awareness and ukulele clubs performed at Chambers Prairie Elementary School earlier this month.
Junior Solomon Scanlan is a founding member of the ukulele club, brand new to Timberline this year. His love for playing the ukulele began with his father teaching him when he was eight years old. Scanlan said he loves the sound of the instrument, being able to make music. He also gets to relive the learning experience by teaching many of the members of ukulele club how to play. “I love the performances too, just going out and sharing the music with other people,” said Scanlan. The club performs whenever the opportunity arises. When it does, Scanlan is in charge of spreading the word to the members. “We usually have a practice beforehand, to just make sure everyone can play something together all in sync, and then we go perform,” said Scanlan. He believes these performances are beneficial to the community because he and the club members get to share their love of music with those around them. Scanlan thinks that playing for audiences, especially for those like the kids at Chambers Prairie, inspires more people to start playing music. “Just showcasing that at these performances I think definitely helps people understand it a little better,” said Scanlan. He wants to pass his passion for music on, just as his father did for him.
Following the musical prelude by the ukulele club, several dance groups took the stage, one of which included sophomore Jennifer Tuimaseve. Tuimaseve danced with a group representing Samoa. She began dancing this past year, starting with a group called Laumua. Laumua is a Samoan dance group based in the North Thurston Public school district. Tuimaseve did not grow up within the Samoan community, so she believes dancing has given her the opportunity to connect with her heritage. “Now I get to communicate with them through dancing. It really does bring me closer to my culture,” said Tuimaseve. Her group gets to perform whenever they can in the community, as well as at competitions. Tuimaseve is currently working with several of her friends to form a new Samoan group that is more Timberline based and said anyone is welcome to join. She believes having performance events, such as the one at Chambers Prairie, is important because they express the meaning of different cultures to people who have not previously been exposed to them. “In every dance, every song, all the language. There’s a history there,” said Tuimaseve. Although she did not participate in the performances herself, cultural awareness club president and junior Grace Armstrong plays a key role in helping Timberline students have opportunities to perform in the community. As cultural awareness president, she feels pressure, and holds herself accountable to represent her club and its members well. She knows her peers look up to her. Armstrong is in charge of relaying the information about performance opportunities to the club members. “When we have events coming up we usually talk about it the club meetings before the actual event. Then sometimes we’ll post it on our social media,” said Armstrong. She believes these events are beneficial to the community in that they are so representative of a variety of cultures. Armstrong hopes the performances inspire younger students to learn more about the cultures that are shared, and then later perform themselves. She thinks that there is still work to be done in order to expand cultural awareness, however. “I think maybe we should include more cultural events. Not just only the cultural awareness assembly, maybe have other events throughout the whole year,” said Armstrong. She said she is determined to continue to encourage cultural awareness within Timberline and the rest of the community.