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The City Journals

Cultural exchange completes circle with a visit to Granite Junior High

Jun 28, 2018 03:38PM ● By Jessica Ivins

Twenty Eagle View Student Dancers visiting Granite Junior High for the Cultural Exchange. (Courtesy of Jaundelis Cummings)

By Jessica Ivins | [email protected] 

Granite School District has the transportation means and the funds to visit Eagle View Elementary on the Ute reservation every year. And every year, Eagle View Elementary youth are invited to come visit Granite Junior High. 

It just isn’t that easy for Eagle View Elementary, from Roosevelt, Utah, to make the three-hour trip. School officials need to make transportation arrangements, and funding is a challenge. 

However, on May 16, 20 students, mentors and facilitators made the trek to share their culture with Granite Junior High and be special guests at the Cultural Exchange. 

Granite Junior High and students from the Eagle View Elementary on the Ute Tribe Reservation partook in a cultural exchange. Chris Mockli, Granite Junior High’s social worker, has been dreaming of this for years. 

“The circle is complete,” Mockli said. 

The Cultural Exchange allowed both schools to experience an array of cultural dances and once again, everyone is not allowed to take for granted the diverse Utah culture. Utah’s unique Granite School District has 60 different languages and 40 different nationalities. Granite Junior High has visited Eagle View Elementary in previous years. 

The visit was possible for Eagle View Elementary Students because of efforts by Jaundelis Cummings, Ute Tribe tutor mentor, and Dandrea Dora, along with Kameron Murray, Gear Up youth site facilitator, and Tamera Jones, Gear Up homework help. 

The mentors and facilitators from the Roosevelt area brought 20 Native American youth to participate at Granite Junior High Cultural Exchange. 

“They mostly perform at home in local powwows and at the school. They have never gone somewhere to perform,” Cummings said. This was a new experience for the youth, and they did it with great deference. 

Some the of the dances at the cultural exchange were Jingle Dance (accompanied with Sun Water drum group), the Ute Bear Dance, and the Mexican La Bruja candle dance with black lights. The kids felt the excitement when the lights when out. This was followed by a Napalese dance, then traditional Somali Dance and the Grizzly band, accompanied by Granite Junior High teachers Joel Mithell and Will Pettit (The Educator of the Year). The Samoan hip hop routine, Irish dance and Polynesian dance kept the show rolling. 

The final dances were the Polynesian boys Haka, a youth favorite as they screamed, and lastly, a mesmerizing African hip hop with music from Nigeria. 

It was an eclectic show for the Granite Junior High students and the Eagle View Elementary visiting youth. The youth and adults were given quite an exciting show for free. 

The 20 youth from Eagle View Elementary received a welcome from Mockli with Indian tacos from a food truck with help from the Granite Junior High student body assembly. Then received a tour of the school. Students liked the vibe in the school. There was variety of languages of “hello” on the walls. 

Mockli started the assembly by saying, “This is the highlight of my career. It took our guests three hours to get here. It is an honor to have them.” 

Drums were beating while students of each school reciprocated their respect for one another’s traditions. 

Mockli presented Eagle View Elementary with a gift. Mockli is very aware of proper cultural traditions of offering gifts. Granite Park Junior High Principal Aaron Wilson said, “Be proud of your family and who you are and your culture. I hope you remember this day always.”

This was Mockli’s last of 38 years at Granite Junior High.