AHS Respect Team stages Soul Food Sampler

Arlington High School students are drawn on stage by members of the Seattle-based Life Enrichment Group, -
Arlington High School students are drawn on stage by members of the Seattle-based Life Enrichment Group,
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ARLINGTON Arlington High School students ate black-eyed peas, rice, greens and cornbread, as members of the Seattle-based Life Enrichment Group performed African dances and recited original poetry to an accompaniment of drums and trumpet.
It was all part of the AHS Respect Teams Soul Food Sampler Feb. 27.
The entertainment was preceded by a short pop quiz on famous African-Americans. Students also learned the origins of soul food, as animal scraps that were left over for the slaves.
Life Enrichment Group founder Monika Mathews led Nikia Mosley and Emily Robertson into the commons with a dance meant to show respect to the students.
This is our thanks, for coming into your home, said Mathews, as Bob Fraziers instruments provided a beat to dance to. Robertson addressed themes of African-American history in her poetry, and Mathews made it clear that she had no intention of letting the students sit back as a passive audience.
In African culture, music is an interaction between people, Mathews said. Were not just here to entertain you. Were all here to entertain each other.
Mathews repeatedly solicited students from the audience to step up and join her, Mosley and Robertson on stage to perform moves such as those of a West African harvest dance. Eventually, close to a dozen students took to the stage at the same time.
Jim Smoots, Karen Keith and Ann Kashiwa all credited fellow AHS Respect Team faculty advisor Al Moore, who also serves as an advisor to the AHS Air Force JROTC, with coming up with the idea for the Soul Food Sampler. Moore joined his peers in praising the students in the Respect Team for all their efforts. Minutes after the assembly concluded, faculty advisors met to discuss how to follow up, while reflecting on the accomplishments of the Arlington School Districts Respect Program to date.
Its been creating a culture of respect for differences, to prevent prejudices and bullying, Smoots said.
From fourth- through 12th-graders, weve had mixes of all age levels and schools, and the older kids have really listened to the younger ones, Keith said.
Were trying to tear down all the walls, between white, black, Hispanic, everyone, Moore said. We want them to learn to appreciate each others cultures; where they come from, what they eat, how they dress. We want to educate them that theres not just one way to do things.

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