Voice Recognition

Licking Heights Local School District News Article

Heights Seniors Own and Celebrate Cultural Identity in Annual Diaspora Show

The Cultural Identity Club at Licking Heights is pleased to present their annual student-led Diaspora show celebrating the many cultures and ethnicities represented across the district.

Back by popular demand this year, there will be two performances of the 2024 show: Fri., March 1 at 6:30 p.m. and Sat., March 2 at 2:30 p.m. Both shows will be in the high school auditorium, 4101 Summit Road SW, Pataskala, OH. Tickets are $10 and available for online presale.

This is the sixth year for Diaspora, which is one of the most popular events at Licking Heights and regularly sells out each show. It is the main annual event for the Cultural Identity Club, a 150+ student organization at Licking Heights High School dedicated to celebrating diversity, advocating for students and creating an inclusive school environment. The club is led by high school administrative assistant Mel Carter.

The event will feature individual and group performances of dances, songs (both sung and instrumental), poetry readings and fashion shows. Carter says almost all songs and poems were written and orchestrated by students.

For students, Diaspora is a way to connect with their culture, educate their community, and celebrate their roots. Senior Natnaiel Ayele, who is participating in Ethiopian and Eritrean dance performances with his friends, says that Diaspora has helped him discover his cultural identity.

“Growing up, I was never really in tune with my culture,” he says. “But I had friends who talked me into doing Diaspora last year and this year, and I’m glad I did. I’d tell other people like me, don’t let your everyday environment stop you from knowing and expressing your culture.”

Fellow senior Kenna Megerssa is in her third year performing with Diaspora. She will also perform in all Ethiopian dances, and took special care to make sure different unique Ethiopian ethnicities and tribes are equally represented. The daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, Megerssa is deeply proud of her Oromo ethnicity.

“As an Oromo person, you don’t get represented in Ethiopia as much. My dad fought for the Oromo people back in his country,” she says. “My parents raised me to remember my roots and culture, and I make sure people understand why I claim my ethnicity. It’s less political, and more my roots I am proud of.”

Senior Auysh Acharya will participate with a Nepali dance group. He says he most enjoys seeing how hard his fellow students work to create and prepare their performances for the show.

“It’s so cool we have this open space to express ourselves culturally,” he says. This is Acharya’s first year performing in Diaspora, and he hopes to make lifelong memories with his friends before graduating.

Similar to Acharya, senior Millard Morgan says he was inspired to participate this year after watching his track teammates dance and read poetry at past Diaspora shows.

Even though this will be his first and last time participating in Diaspora, Morgan is making the most of it–he is performing a speech, participating in the West African dance performance and leading a group of advanced film production students in creating a promotional video for social media and a longer behind-the-scenes video for the show’s intermission.

“I love just being a part of a performance that is culturally close to me and the other communities in the district that never really get to show out,” he says.” I want to inspire people to create, just like my track teammates and the theater program did for me.”

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Licking Heights Local School District

6539 Summit Road Pataskala, OH 43062
P: 740-927-6926 | F: 740-927-9043

Licking Heights High School (9-12)

4101 Summit Road Pataskala, OH 43062
P: 740-964-9005 | F: 740-927-0508

Licking Heights Middle School (7-8)

4000 Mink Street Pataskala, OH 43062
P: 740-927-9046 | F: 740-927-3197

Central Intermediate (5-6)

6565 Summit Road Pataskala, OH 43062
P: 740-927-3365 | F: 740-927-5845

South Elementary (1-4)

6623 Summit Road Pataskala, OH 43062
P: 740-964-1674 | F: 740-964-1625

West Elementary (1-4)

1490 Climbing Fig Blacklick, OH 43004
P: 614-864-9089 | F: 614-501-4672

North Elementary (K)

6507 Summit Road Pataskala, OH 43062
P: 740-927-3268 | F: 740-927-5736

Central Preschool

6565 Summit Road Pataskala, OH 43062
P: (740) 927-3268

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