Wendler Middle School is one of the most ethnically diverse schools in Anchorage. Students celebrated different cultures at a special assembly highlighting heritage through dance.

A group of Samoan students started off with a powerful performance of the Haka, a traditional Polynesian warrior battle dance.

“It's from our ancestors, way from the beginning,” said eighth-grader Amosa Sou. “We learn it from stomp, feet, actions, the words-- we help each other as a family to work hard and be fierce.”

Students took their peers on a musical trip around the world from Nepal to Russia, Ireland to Spain.

Filipino students performed the Tinikling, a traditional folk dance between bamboo poles.

“It takes a lot of courage and energy because you're trying not to get your foot caught in the sticks,” said eighth-grader Lorreine Cuenco.

The crowd went wild for eighth-grader Dennis Vargas, who goes by the stage name “Ryanboy.” He’s Filipino but wanted to showcase K-pop, a musical genre from South Korea.

“K-pop is becoming bigger and bigger in fan base,” Ryanboy said. “I feel like one culture isn't superior to another. All of ours are different and you don't have to be one's culture to represent another.”

The audience screamed and cheered after every performance.

Middle schoolers said it was easy to get up stage because their classmates are so supportive.

“They want you to know that you matter,” said eighth-grader Kaydence Hartvigson, who is Aleut. “They want you to show you can be different and they want to see your difference.”

This is the twenty-fifth year the school has organized a diversity assembly.

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