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Dennis Earl celebrates Assyrian New Year
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First graders Ethan Houshiar and Ethan Nissan wave their Assyrian flags with pride at Fridays celebration at Dennis Earl Elementary.

While Assyrians may not have a country, they do have a close-knit community to call home in Turlock.

Often mistaken as Syrians, Assyrians are not from Syria but rather ancient Mesopotamia. Next to Chicago, Stanislaus County is one of the most populated regions that Assyrians call home. On Friday local Assyrian students had the opportunity to celebrate their culture at Dennis Earl Elementary, the school with the highest number of Assyrian students in the Turlock Unified School District. As Friday marked the 6764 Assyrian New Year, the local Assyrian students gathered to present their heritage and invite other students to join in on the festivities.

“As Christian Assyrians we are happy to be in America and have the freedom of religion and speech that this multicultural country offers,” said Caty Nariman, Dennis Earl community liaison and coordinator of the event. “You can feel the diversity at the local level and the national level, and we’re grateful for that.”

Dennis Earl students celebrated the Assyrian New Year, which coincides with the beginning of springtime, with a processional led by an Assyrian queen while students of all grades followed waving the Assyrian flag. The younger students each exhibited a letter of the Assyrian alphabet, which is read in reverse, and all students practiced a few Assyrian words. Older Earl Elementary students read a brief history of the Assyrian culture before joining in on several performances by locals of the Assyrian community.

During the entire event students held hands, which reflects the unity and community inherent in Assyrian culture. Principal Tami Truax even tried her hand at the traditional dances, much to the joy of her students who cheered her on.

“I am so thankful to Dennis Earl and especially our staff and dear principal Tami Truax for agreeing to celebrate the Assyrian New Year,” said Nariman.