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Nevada’s heritage, history celebrated

Teri Vance
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal
NEVADA APPEAL |

Wearing a pink cowboy hat and denim jacket, 6-year-old Hannah Kaiser copied the Chinese symbols written on the chalkboard.

“I learned that one stick means one,” she said.

Paying tribute to Nevada’s culture by wearing Western-themed clothing, the students spent Wednesday learning about the state’s history.

Katie Pollock told the students how the Chinese helped build the railroad in Nevada, often being tasked with the most dangerous and difficult jobs.

She was among several volunteers that staffed 17 booths set up at Bordewich-Bray Elementary School as part of the school’s annual Nevada Day celebration.

The first celebration was organized by then-aide Gene Brown in 1999 as a half-day event with the younger grades. It has since grown to a schoolwide activity taking up the entire day in honor of Nevada’s admittance to the union Oct. 31, 1864.

“It’s a tradition,” said Principal Valerie Dockery. “The teachers really get involved and the community gets involved. It’s a nice way to teach kids about the history of Nevada.”

Siblings Clarissa, 15, and Matt Horse, 17, both attended Bordewich-Bray Elementary School and remember the Nevada Day celebrations.

“It was awesome,” Clarissa remembered.

They returned this year to share the traditional Native American dances they’ve practiced since they were both small children.

They said performing is a way to keep their heritage alive.

“Otherwise, it’s like we never existed,” Clarissa said.

Other stations ranged from campfire songs and horses with carts to animals native to the state and a Basque representative.

Nahim Gutierrez, 11, said she was excited to see the live animals provided by the University of Nevada, Reno.

“I haven’t touched a rubber boa because I don’t like snakes,” she said. “It felt so soft.”

Aubrey Alotta, 10, said it was “respectful to Nevada” to learn its history. She wore her cowboy boots and hat, signed by Reno Rodeo contestants and country singer LeAnn Womack, but it wasn’t just for Nevada Day.

“I wear these boots a lot,” she said. “I’ve worn them all week. I love horses.”

Fabiola Mata, 11, had a more practical reason for learning Nevada facts.

“If you live in the state, you need to know about it,” she said. “If a tourist comes and asks you, you can answer their questions.”

– Contact reporter Teri Vance at tvance@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1272.