All Wildcats Welcome
ALL WILDCATS WELCOME
Story by Bailee Wicks
Central Washington University has been named one of most diverse schools in the state of Washington for four years in a row, according to Niche, a website of data scientists and engineers to assist people in choosing the right school.
No matter where Central students come from—their background, religious beliefs or sexual preferences, they all have one thing in common: they are all Wildcats.
Over 120 Central students have joined forces to present a “High School Musical”-themed flash mob not only to celebrate our differences and emphasize the message that all are welcome, but to show the need for a multicultural center here on campus.
The Start of Something New
Since Myrinda Wolitarsky, senior public health major and logistics coordinator of the flash mob, was in high school, it was a dream of hers to put on a “High School Musical”-themed flash mob.
“I was excited to go to high school and be able to sing and dance all through the hallways, which did not happen on a regular basis,” she says. “So instead when I was looking at colleges, Central was obviously the Wildcats and I thought that’s where it is gonna happen and will be my moment, and yet when I came here, dancing through the hallways was not a common experience. There should be a flash mob in the SURC.”
The original idea started as one song and flourished into a seven minute long flash mob featuring songs from all three “High School Musical” movies. This flash mob has been kept a secret until today, Feb. 8, when the performance took place.
Nenay Norawong, senior public relations major and the creative director of the project, took this flash mob to the next level using his specialization in project management and past experience as a performing intern for Walt Disney World. Both Norawong and Wolitarsky have put many hours into the project since the official start in Oct. 2017.
“On average, I would say there is 15 hours of rehearsals a week on top of five hours of outside meetings with dance captains and office hours. So, I would say I put in 20 hours a week of compensated time and in my personal leisure time, I put in another 20 hours to do presentations, choreograph and fill out paperwork,” says Norawong.
There are many groups across campus that were also involved in the project: the Central Dance Team, CWU Cheer squad, the Student Dance Association as well as a student ensemble, which were known as ‘The Homies’ throughout the process.
Norawong actually facilitates and leads all rehearsals himself with the homies. “When it came to choreographing, it was more of a collaboration with the team captains and coaches of the other groups within the projects on their specific pieces and songs,” he says.
“It was fun to see everyone come together,” adds Hannah Rogers, sophomore business administration major and CWU cheerleader. “Each group practiced their individual parts and then towards the end, we started running through the whole thing together.”
The practices were more than just running the numbers over and over. “The first hour of the rehearsals were workshops. There, we do a lot of self-discovery with things that I have personally taught them and my philosophy as an artist, like A.D.C., which is absorption, digestion and compel,” explains Norawong. “Where they take the energy in around them and absorb it, then digest it and then use it compel themselves forward with whatever energy they are absorbing around them so they have the best performance.”
The practices were held all over campus, but the final run-throughs were in the SURC after hours. “Although they were late, from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m., they were exciting,” adds Rogers. “The choreographers and leadership team were sweet and so fun to work with. They all set a very upbeat and positive tone.”
Push for A Multicultural Center
Wolitarsky is the Vice President of Equity and Community Affairs here on campus. For her, the idea “started as just a fun idea and exciting project, but since working in my position in student gov. this year and working with different demographics and backgrounds is just the importance of having that multicultural space here on campus,” she says, adding that the Center for Diversity and Social Justice, while a helpful resource for students, is only a small space in the SURC.
“[A multicultural space] would be educational and [provide] advocacy to give different groups around campus a safe place … to call home is very important on campus. As soon as I came here, I felt directly at home and was happy and content, but there are some students who don’t feel that way, so I think it would be nice to have that space for them,” she says.
There are students of different races/ethnicities, religions, majors, genders and sexual preferences all represented in the flash mob “to show the president of the school that a multicultural center should be on the top of the to-do list,” Wolitarsky adds.
The flash mob is meant to do more than just share a love of “High School Musical,” but to open up a discussion of something larger, inclusivity. CWU’s slogan ‘You are welcome here’ has been taken literally throughout the creation of the project.
“During some of the workshops, we have had guest speakers come in and talk about how one person can make a significant change,” says Wolitarsky.
At 12:30 p.m. on Feb. 8, the SURC was painted a picture of the diversity at Central and shown what can be accomplished when we are all in this together.