Memorial ninth graders celebrate diversity

Published 2:20 pm Saturday, May 31, 2008

By David Ball

The News staff writer

Hispanic dancers, African-American praise dancers, a cultural feast and family history presentations were celebrated, all under one roof.

Students and family members from Mary Lathan’s class at Memorial 9th Grade Campus gathered to celebrate the cultural diversity of their school and also the city of Port Arthur.

The celebration, held at the Port Arthur Library, was the culmination of the classes’ genealogy projects and a kick-off for their literary magazine, “Kaleidoscope.”

The genealogy projects were laid out on the table in photo albums featuring pictures of them along with their families.

Librarian Carolyn Carter said many of the students used the library’s genealogy databases to compile their books.

“Kaleidoscope” featured the students artwork, prose, poetry, song lyrics, essays, and other mediums.

Dancers dressed in traditional handmade Hispanic dresses danced to La Bamba while the praise dancers used choreography and hand movements to perform to Gospel music. The food was a sampling from around the world with the students cultural background.

Lathan wanted to thank the Port Arthur Public School Foundation for funding the genealogy projects and for a grant for “Kaleidoscope.”

Last month, Lathan was honored with a Communities in School Best of Texas Award. She has spent the last 28 years of her career teaching at either Lincoln or Memorial 9th Grade Campus. She taught at Austin Middle School for a brief time and four years at Thomas Jefferson High School before she returned to her alma mater to teach.