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How a French Camp school's dance celebrates Mexican Independence Day

Martha Rosas said everything seen in the performance has meaning, from the dresses and hairstyles to the flowers in the girls' hair.

FRENCH CAMP, Calif. — Students at French Camp Elementary School are celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with their annual cultural dance performance.

It's filled with bright costumes, lively music and some fast dance moves. However, teacher said the students are working hard to make it all look easy - all while learning some important lessons along the way.

Over at the elementary school, Mexican traditions are coming to life.

Officials say French Camp Elementary is the oldest school in the Manteca Unified School District, and it also educates one of the largest Mexican student populations in the district.

“The outfits make them feel like part of their heritage. It comes alive when they’re dancing,” said Martha Rosas, a bilingual paraprofessional at the school.

The dance has become an annual school tradition.

This special day of dance celebrates Mexican Independence Day and was started by Rosas, an educator and mother with a heart for heritage and her daughters. She's been part of the event for more than 15 years.

“I’ve done it for a long time, and let me tell you, I’m not a dancer and I’m not a professional dancer, I’m just a mom who supported her daughters and through them it grew. It just grew,” Rosas said. 

Rosas said everything seen in the performance has meaning, from the dresses and hairstyles to the flowers in the girls' hair. Students of all backgrounds can participate and teachers made sure all kids have a chance to shine in the front row.

“When they’re stressed, they like to dance," Rosas said. "They feel like they have a way to vent through the dance.”

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