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Rieke, Cesar Chavez schools join forces for Cinco de Mayo fundraiser

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Oregon State University nutrition instructor Yolanda De La Cruz teaches moms at Cesar Chavez School how to prepare nutritional meals. The North Portland school is preparing food for the Art Fair at Rieke Elementary, in Southwest. meal preparation class at Cesar Chavez Elementary School. The women of the class are preparing food for the upcoming Cinco de Mayo festival and art fair at Rieke Elementary School. Jill Anderson’s daughter is learning Spanish after school but doesn’t get much chance to practice it.

The second-grader attends school at Rieke Elementary, a popular neighborhood school in Southwest Portland that is 81 percent white.

So when Rieke’s fifth annual art fair fell on Cinco de Mayo this year, Anderson says it was natural to try to add some authentic cultural flair to their c elebration. They reached out to César Chávez K-8 School in North Portland, which is 58 percent Hispanic and at the opposite end of the socioeconomic scale.

The schools are 12 miles and a world away, but they’re forging a unique partnership.

At Rieke’s art fair on May 5, a group of about 30 Latino moms at César Chávez will prepare traditional Mexican food.

The Rieke PTA will pay for the ingredients and equipment, and proceeds from the food sales will be split between the schools.

A staff member at Chávez also has ties to a classical Spanish guitar group, Guitarras Romanticas, who’ll provide the entertainment.

Two connections made Cesar Chavez a natural partner: Rieke Principal Andrea Porter-Lopez is married to Antonio Lopez, a former longtime principal at César Chávez. And a first-grade teacher at Rieke came from César Chávez last year.

“The cross-cultural exchange is important,” Anderson says. “We’re hoping we can have an ongoing relationship and participate in events at their school.”

Yolanda Morales is the full-time community agent at Chávez School who organizes the parent groups, one of which will be preparing the food for the fair.

They’ve been busy preparing food for at least 200 people — including posole (a shredded pork soup), huaraches (a soft meat-filled corn taco with vegetables), tamales, tacos al vapor (a steamed taco), and agua frescas, a sweet, iced drink.

The parent groups make everything by hand, from their own family recipes.

Most of the families are from Mexico, while Morales is from Guatemala — which ironically doesn’t celebrate Mexican independence day.

Nevertheless, Morales says she’s thrilled to be making a new partner in a school across town.

“If we can support them, they can support us,” she says. “For our culture, we have a lot of things we can share with them, things they don’t know about our culture. I think this is the time to know each other.”

Rieke Art Fair

The Rieke Art Fair is set for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 5, at Rieke School, 1405 S.W. Vermont St.

About 40 professional artists will sell their work, including jewelry, paintings, ceramics and fashions. The Rieke PTA reaps 25 percent of the proceeds. Last year the PTA took home $7,600 to support needs, including a technology specialist to teach computer skills; performing arts enrichment; library books; teacher grants; and a fund for school expenses for families in need.

Food proceeds and donations will benefit Chávez School’s PTA.

Art classes for $15 each will be offered to kids at the Rieke Art Fair all day.

May 5 also is opening day of the Hillsdale Farmers Market and the Hillsdale Mainstreet’s SpringFest.

For more information: www.riekeartfair.com.

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