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MEChA promotes higher education, community engagement, culture and history.

COURTESY PHOTO: IME GUZMAN MARTINEZ - Media assistant Jazelle Terrell prepares MEChA dancers, including sophomore Rosario Barajas, for a May Day performance this past school year.One of the coolest student organizations at North Marion High School is a cultural group called MEChA.

North Marion's MEChA group is a chapter of a national student organization that promotes higher education, community engagement, culture and history. For years, the North Marion group has been gaining visibility (and popularity) at the school, delighting crowds at events such as May Day with its ballet folklórico (traditional Mexican dancing) performances.

This June, the dancers debuted as commencement ceremony performers. At the event, the graduation crowd roared and clapped with excitement as the couples in traditional skirts and suits whirled on the dance floor to classic Mexican folk music, and a young man spun a lasso through the air. The hope is that MEChA may be able to return to commencement in 2023 to do what it's known for here in North Marion: dancing.

"With MEChA, the main focus is the dancing, but we also do different fundraisers to raise money to buy the shoes, the skirts, the outfits for the dancers and for other organizations," said Yadira Romero Navarro, a MEChA officer and the ASB president for 2022-23 school year.

"We also get together and make gifts for the teachers to give out during Teacher Appreciation Week. Last year, we were able to make some 'boo grams' at a football game in October (lollipops with googly eyes) to raise money for the outfits for the dancers and to raise money for Mr. Pelaez, as well, to support Holiday Hope Week."

Holiday Hope Week is a December fundraiser led by Family Outreach Advocate Rafael Pelaez. The event involves collecting funds to buy gifts and food for families in need during the holidays.

However, MEChA wouldn't be the crowd-thrilling, fundraising success that it is without MEChA adviser Jazelle Terrell, although she was quick to thank her hard-working students.

"A lot of these kids don't play other sports or aren't in other clubs, so this is their way of being involved," Terrell said. "They really want to learn about the culture."

She also expressed appreciation for volunteers, such as School Board Director Ricardo Verastegui.

"He commits a lot of time to teaching the students," Terrell said, noting that it's about three times a week for two hours for the months leading up to May Day. "Not a lot of people would do that. He's awesome."

Verstegui returned the compliment to Terrell for her devotion to MEChA, and explained that he is proud to support the students through teaching them ballet folklórico.

"Learning to dance does a lot for the kids," he said. "Some of the kids are really shy. I noticed that by being involved in the dance group, they come out of their shell."

He also said he encourages students to speak their mind when they have something to say and that knowing their culture can make them stronger as learners and as Latinos.

"The more that you know, the better that you are, especially when learning your heritage," Verastegui said. "Knowing where you come from, knowing your roots makes you stronger. Because, a lot of times, when you don't know where your ancestors came from, you feel like you have no space to stand on."

Students who want to tap into the culture are encouraged to do so. To learn more about MEChA, visit the group's table during high school registration Aug. 23 to 25.

"We want everyone to be included," Terrell said. "It's not just a Mexican American club. We want as many colors of dresses, every race out there with us."

MEChA stands for Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán (Chicanx Student Movement of Aztlán).

Aztlán "was the homeland of the Mexica (pronounced me-SHI- ka) (a native people). Geographically, it is the southwestern United States and northern Mexico," according to MEChA's national website.

Chicano/a/x "is an identity of many Americans of Mexican or mestizo descent," according to MEChA's national website.

The word "mecha" means "wick" or "match" in Spanish.

To share stories on the North Marion School District, email Communications Specialist Jillian Daley at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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