Rancho Cotate jazzed about Unity Week
Students believe week of activites brings campus closer together
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By Kaydon Coburn  February 8, 2013 12:00 am

A Rancho Cotate High School tradition, Unity Week, will commence once again on Monday, Feb. 11, with a series of assemblies featuring performances, speakers and cultural demonstrations. Unity Week, nearing its second decade at the high school, aims to celebrate the cultural diversity and foster unity among the student population.

"Unity Week is so important…it not only unites all the different diversities and cultures here, but also brings the entire student body closer,” said Jennifer Kim, junior. “I think that's really cool."

Unity Week, Feb. 11-15, will have a variety of scheduled performers, and presentations on campus from the local community and surrounding counties including: Derrick Smith, a former Oakland high school principal turned motivational speaker, will be speaking to large audiences in the gym; a mariachi band will be playing at lunchtime; a student immigration panel will speak and answer questions in the library; Chinese Acrobats perform; Polynesian dancing led by Rohnert Park local Vao Peleti, includes the Haka, featuring traditional male student dancers; a Buddhist Nun will present about the Buddhist culture by touring the classrooms; Sonoma State University Kappa Alpha Psi and Black Student Union members perform step dancing, and share African-American history and Black fraternity history; JACL (Japanese American Citizens League) speaking about Asian prejudice; SCOE, doing a hands-on activity to show what it's like to be mentally disabled; Los Guachies Hispanic music group; and storytellers George Churchill and Living Voices.

"Everyone really enjoys all the presentations we (Associated Student Body) put on. Rancho students already have a very high tolerance of each other, and I think we have that because of Unity Week," says senior Katelin Holman.

Each assembly occurs at a different time throughout the day. Some days have multiple assemblies at once while others take place in front of the entire school. Unity Week culminates Friday with a rally/assembly in the gym beginning at fourth period for the entire students and staff.

"I think it's important because it gives kids a break from the drudgery of school,” commented biology instructor John Vogt. “It (Unity Week) exposes kids to different cultures and points of view. The fire dancers are always cool, and listening to the foreign exchange students, and what they think about America and these Nor Cal kids."

Unity Week has been in existence since 1995. In the first years of Unity Week, a majority of the presenters and performers were organized by the administration with assistance from the ASB.

ASB officially took over in 2009, and Unity Week has grown each year since its first year with more performances and a larger budget. According to the school’s ASB leaders, Unity Week is now almost entirely organized by the students, for the students.

    "Unity Week brings the school together and gives us a sense of family. It really defies stereotypes,” junior Laura Pratz said.
Rancho Cotate High School student Hayley Dougan contributed to this story.

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