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Northeast cheerleaders will represent Varnett at MLK parade

More than three dozen cheerleaders are preparing for the big stage.

That stage will be the streets of Houston in Mid-Town, where the Northeast Campus group will march in a parade in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The event starts at 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 20, when millions will honor the slain civil rights leader on the holiday celebrating his birthday.

The 20th Annual MLK Grande Parade will originate at San Jacinto and Elgin streets near the Houston Community College’s central campus and will stretch one mile. The event is expected to last two hours, ending at San Jacinto and Webster streets.

The 41 participants, all girls from kindergarten through 5th grade, have been practicing about 30 minutes a day for a month in preparation for Varnett’s third participation in the annual event.

“For the most part, these are smaller girls and we want them to stay in order and march in unison as much as possible,” said Ms. Anna Medina, the Northeast Campus nurse and the organizer of the Varnett entry.

The girls will wear royal blue and white uniforms, wave pom poms and chant “We are the Mustangs,” “Rock with the Blue,” “Chu Chu,” “Come on, Varnett,” and “We are the Best,” said Ms. Medina.  She said Northeast Campus had tryouts and the girls were selected based on grades, conduct and cheerleading ability.

“I do this for the girls because they really look forward to it,” Ms. Medina said.

Ms. Medina said that in addition to honoring Dr. King, the purpose of the students’ participation is for them to have fun and to build confidence in front of a large crowd.

“I used to be a cheerleader in my community,” Ms. Medina said. “I did cheerleading when I was in school to build my confidence, and it did.”

Natavia Parks, a 5th grade student, said she is looking forward to the experience. “This will be my last year in elementary school and I want to make it a good year,” Natavia said. Makayla Aluqdah, a 4th grader, said: “We get to celebrate a great man,” adding that her class has been writing about Dr. King in preparation for a test.

This year’s guest at the MLK Grande Parade will be rapper Lil Wayne,  Bruce Johnson, with the MLK Grande Parade, said in a statement. "He is expected to be at the parade Jan. 20 and possibly at a few of our other events," Johnson said.

Organizers said the parade will showcase 15 floats, 30 marching bands and is expected to attract 300,000 spectators. The forecast for Monday calls for partly cloudy skies, with a 20 percent chance of rain and a high of 72 degrees.

This year’s guest at the MLK Grande Parade will be rapper  Lil Wayne, so we will have tribute bands performing his songs at the Community Festival. He is expected to be at the parade Jan. 20 and possibly at a few of our other events.”

Top Photo: Northeast Campus students practice for Monday's parade honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. They will be part of the 20th Annual MLK Grande Parade  in Mid-Town, Monday, January 20, the holiday commemorating Dr. King's birthday.

Bottom Photo: Participating in the MLK Grande Parade Monday as cheerleaders will be, from left, Natavia Parks, 5th grade; Makayla Aluqdah, 4th grade, and Brionne Sumler, 4th grade.

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