Juntos students spearhead historic dance at The Dalles High School

Balloons at the first Latino dance in the history of The Dalles High School in 2019. Photo by Andrea Flores.

Latino students, which make up about 37% of the student body at The Dalles High School, have few options for organized social activities. Dances primarly play songs in English. So, the student club at the school, Juntos Council, decided to get school support to have a Latino dance not only for fun but also to spread cultural awareness.

The Juntos Council is part of the Oregon State University Extension Service’s Juntos program in Wasco County. Juntos, launched by OSU Open Campus in 2011, is designed to provide knowledge and resources to prevent youth from dropping out of high school and go on to pursue a post-secondary education path.

Teresa Esiquio and Yajaira Madrigal, Juntos Council members, joined Andrea Flores, Juntos coordinator in Wasco County, when she met with Vice Principal Phil Williams. The students made their case for a Latino dance, contending that it would create inclusivity at the high school. The school administrators approved the idea.

On April 23, 2019, the first Latino dance in the history of the school drew about 200 students. The Juntos Council scheduled a dance in 2020 but it was canceled due to COVID-19. There are plans for a dance in 2022 and it will be known as the Juntos “Together” Dance so it is more inclusive of classmates that don’t identify at Latino.

Students on the Juntos Council that made the dance happen were Teresa Esiquio, Yajara Madrigal, Elena Hernández, Selene Heredia and Tilaima Paulo.

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