Pierce Pioneer

Tacoma Mural Project

Tacoma is a city with a vibrant art scene, from its Art Museum and Glass Museum, to its Musical Playhouse, and the dozens of family owned boutiques and jewelry stores in between. Still, some of the most prominent pieces of Tacoma’s local art (as well as history) comes from its colorful murals decorating downtown Tacoma. 

The murals in Tacoma mix culture, advocacy, and tradition into art and with the help of Downtown on the Go and Spaceworks Tacoma, the legacies and meanings of these murals can be explored and discussed via a virtual 1.1 mail tour.

The first mural the tour shows you is titled Working Forward Weaving Anew, and according to the guides this mural “is designed to honor cultural traditions, the natural environment, and our need for new harmonious and sustainable paths into the future.” Painted by Esteban Camacho and Jessilyn Brinkerhoff with the help of a team of nine Native American artists, this mural was handpainted in only 6 weeks and is part of the Prairie Line Trail Project and reminds us to respect the land we share with others and nurture those relationships. 

A recent mural that was shown during this tour was a solo painting done by Tiffany Hammonds in honor of the 2020 protests, this mural isn’t painted directly on the storefronts and instead was painted on the boards during the protests in response to the death of George Floyd and the ongoing police brutality. In an interview with Chase Hutchinson of the News Tribune, Hammonds talks about the message behind this piece. 

“The message is hope,” says Hammonds. “If it’s our vision, that means we are capable of doing it.”

A more diverse twist on the usual painted murals on the tour was one done by David Long and Al Pikart who took screenshot images from webcam chats and turned them into an art piece drawing attention to the mistreatment of people detained at the NW ICE Processing Center. The words “Queremos Libertad” translates to “We want Freedom” and pushes Long and Pikart’s message that no human should be treated illegally. 

The final mural shown on the tour was a beautiful tribute to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The artist, Nori Kimura painted this mural with four of his middle school students as he said it would be more meaningful to him. It was RBG’s work for equal rights, activism for women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ+ community that inspired Kimura to paint this mural as a tribute to her work and legacy as an advocate and activist.

My takeaway from this tour was that our state is steeped in history and culture and although it may not always be pleasant we must remember it and keep it with us, for me, the art displayed on this tour is a reminder to embrace who we are, who we live with, and where we come from so that we might pave the way towards a better future.
























Kris Brannon’s SuperSonics Dream

After his death on Feb. 11, Seattle SuperSonics’ superfan Kris Brannon’s impact ripples through the community


Seattle SuperSonics’ superfan Kris Brannon, 47, mostly recognized as “Sonics Guy”, died of heart failure on Feb. 11. The news of the Tacoma resident was confirmed by his sister on Twitter, as he will be missed by family, friends and fans alike.

“A sad day for all of us,” said the owners of an investment group working to bring back the Sonics. “[He was] one of the kindest, most dedicated [and] big-hearted Sonics fans ever.”

Known in the Puget Sound for advocating the return of the Seattle SuperSonics, Brannon became the subject of artwork, memes and has written over 20 articles on a Sonics fan website. Fans attending Mariners, Storm and Rainer games were always on the lookout for the 6’5” guy with an afro wearing green and gold.

Brannon had attended over 1500+ events, reminding fans of what they had lost by the NBA team moving to Oklahoma back in 2008. He could be seen holding a sign at every event that said “Bring ‘Em Back!”

With a smile ready and his battlecry being heard over any crowd at games, city council meetings and rallies, he was a presence that could not be ignored. Brannon’s enthusiasm for his team was immeasurable and was a huge part of why people are pushing for the team to come back to Seattle.

Today a mural of Brannon can be seen on first avenue south’s Wall of Fame. The mural was done by Jeff Jacobson and stands next to Walter Jones, Jack Sikma and Edgar Martinez in remembrance of his contribution to Seattle sports fans.

“Thanks for everything you’ve done for Sonics fans everywhere,” said owners of the investment group. “We’ll never forget and we won’t stop trying until we make your dream, and ours, come true.”  

Tacoma Public Library eliminates overdue fines

The Tacoma Public Library is eliminating overdue fines as of June 1, according to South Sound Business News. Director Kate Larson during a press meeting said that overdue fees from missing or damaged items that incurred a charge as far as Jan. 1, 2016, will no longer be owed. 

“This gives patrons who have been avoiding visiting their library due to outstanding charges the opportunity to start fresh,” Larson said. “We hope that this change will let our community know that their library values them and they are welcome here.”

The library had already stopped charging overdue fines in March 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. TPL will continue to follow their new policy, nonetheless. 

There is a difference between fines and fees however. Fees are when the book is damaged or lost, which the library will still oversee. On the other hand, fines are when the item is overdue which is what the library is getting rid of starting June 1. So go visit Tacoma Public Library again!

Surprises of Cinco De Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is a day that is known for celebrating Mexican pride with parades, friends, parties, family gatherings and most of all tequila.

Cinco de Mayo, or the fifth of May, has become a well-known holiday in the United States and has been celebrated in Mexico since 1863. In an effort to raise awareness and educate about this festive holiday, here are 5 Things you may not have known about Cinco de Mayo.

It’s not Mexican Independence Day

Mexico had declared their independence on Sep. 16, 1810 and this marked the beginning of hostilities against the rule of the Spanish government.

Celebrates the Battle of Puebla

The Battle of Puebla is known as a great victory over 6,000 French soldiers on May 5, 1862. Benito Juárez, president of Mexico rounded up about 2,000 troops made up of indigenous Mexicans or of mixed ancestry to face the assault by the French. Mexico was led in the battle by General Ignacio Zaragoza from Texas and lasted from daybreak to that evening and the effort by the Mexicans was able to drive off the French. Immediately after, the victory was declared a celebration.

Mexico Celebrates Cinco de Mayo

In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is observed by the state of Puebla where the Battle of Puebla took place. Although they are not the only state to put on a celebration, for most of Mexico May 5 is a day like any other and is not considered a federal holiday so banks and stores stay open. For those that celebrate, some traditions include military parades, reenactment of the Battle of Puebla and other festive events.

Why does the United States celebrate Cinco de Mayo?   

The United States celebrates Mexican culture and heritage on May 5, mostly in parts where the Mexican American population is great. In the 1960’s some Chicano activists brought awareness of the holiday due to their observance of the Battle of Puebla. Today, most who celebrate do so with mariachi music, Mexican folk dancing and traditional Mexican foods like the beloved tacos. Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston are cities which hold some of the largest festivals that mark the occasion and there are still others that will celebrate with chihuahua races like in Chandler, Arizona.

Why Tequila on Cinco de Mayo?

On May 5, 47% of drink orders are margaritas compared to the rest of the year with 23% and tequila sales double leading up to the celebration of the holiday. However, tequila was not always so easily accessible. From 1000 B.C.-200A.D. the Aztecs fermented a drink called pulque which was made from the sap of the agave plant. The drink was important to the Aztecs and they worshiped Mayahuel the goddess of maguey and her husband the Patecatl the god of pulque. When the Spanish arrived and met the Aztecs they discovered pulque and the drink started to catch on. Since then, tequila has taken its time in becoming what we know today and had been handled by the Spanish who were distilling agave in the 1400’s-1600’s. In 1758 the Cuervo family started to commercially distill their own tequila followed by the Sauza family in 1873. Don Cenobio Sauza identified blue agave as the best for making tequila and this is where the tequila known today started to be produced. The Margarita was later invented in 1936 by an Irishman called Madden who ran a bar in Tijuana and called the drink Tequila Daisy (daisy in Spanish is margarita). It was not until 1974 that tequila became the intellectual property of Mexico.

Being Mexican or not, Cinco de Mayo is a day which celebrates Mexican culture altogether and is known for friends, family and good fun. This year the holiday may look a little different, but a celebration of the Mexican culture will never die.

Littering in Local Wetland

E-Cigarettes policies not likely to change

E-Cigarettes policies not likely to change

E-cigarette use is treated as cigarette use, despite a lack of scientific study

Sean Hobbs Staff Writer


As e-cigarettes, or e-cigs, have grown in popularity, so too has the conversation surrounding their appropriate use. Unlike “analog” cigarettes, as they’re often called by e-cigarette users, e-cigs are largely untested, and almost completely unregulated.

Despite being invented in the 1960’s and used in the United States since 2008, e-cigarettes have been mostly ignored by the Food and Drug Administration, the FDA, for the past 6 years. The FDA has only recently proposed extending their authority to additional tobacco products. This would include e-cigarettes, as well as cigars, pipe tobacco, certain dissolvable gels, and water-pipe tobacco.

Pierce County has been somewhat quicker to action, as the Tacoma-Pierce County Board of Health passed new tobacco regulations in June of 2011. These regulations prohibited the sale of e-cigarettes to those under 18, and limited their use to places minors are lawfully prohibited, places of employment that are not public places, and locations that exclusively sell or promote e-cigarettes.

Meanwhile, e-cigarettes have recently been handled by Pierce College, and only in non-legislative ways. There have been many signs taped to entrances around campus, repeating the policies of the Board of Health. Official campus smoking policies have not been updated since 2006, and do not include anything specific regarding e-cigarettes.

Policies adopted by Pierce College are subject to federal and Washington state policies and laws as stated in the Pierce College policy manual. Regardless of if the school wanted to change its policies on e-cigarettes or not, student government would not be able to change any policies that would conflict with those at the federal or state levels. As such, the argument goes above the heads of any Pierce College student.

While there is relatively little scientific evidence either way, students stand on all sides of the debate, . While, some staunchly believe that e-cigarettes are safe for those around the smoker, there are others who believe that they(e-cigs) are equally as harmful as analog cigarettes. Yet, others are just simply caught in the crossfire.

“We’re being classified as smokers, we’ve got to stand with the smokers, we got to inhale the smokers smoke, even though we’re not smokers, so we might as well smoke,” said Ryan Meadows, Pierce College student and e-cigarette smoker, regarding the schools current policy about e-cigarettes. “There’s no benefit anymore, they eliminated the benefits of e-cigarettes.”

Until further scientific research has been done regarding the effects of e-cigarettes, and those effects compared to those of analog cigarettes, it seems regulations will stay how they are. Any new legislation passed now would be solely based on speculation.

Carving a path to success


Melissa Stitt-Dastous poses with the Raider Bird while encouraging students to support the Pride Alliance club

In the short few months of this quarter, Melissa Stitt-Dastous has been fast at work making a name for herself. The 17-year old Running Start student from Lakes High School began her recent rise to prominence by serving on the Students and Activities Budget Committee.

While on the committee, Stitt was able to see the direct impact her suggestions could have on campus operations, as well as on students. For that reason, she decided that a more organizational position would allow her to have an even greater and more positive impact.

In April, Student Leadership started accepting applicants for its vacant Student Relations Senator position. The new senator was to serve for the rest of spring quarter, and Stitt was presented with a perfect opportunity.

After applying, Stitt was promptly chosen for the position. She was also chosen to fill in for the vacant Clubs Senator position this quarter.

“All of the positive encouragement from everyone was really motivating. In high school I wasn’t accepted very much, I wasn’t really good at anything; I didn’t have any notable talents,” Stitt said. “But when I came to Pierce, they [Student Leadership] made me feel like I could be anything.”

The student relations senator is responsible, in part, for reaching out to students, preparing for, and managing several campus events. The tasks can be overwhelming, but Stitt maintains her resolve and adopts the necessary managerial skills to be an effective senator, “I’ve definitely learned to use a planner. Honestly, I don’t know where’d I’d be without it,” Stitt said.

Stitt has big plans for the future. “I want to be the CEO of a major corporation. I always thought there was something missing in me. But I love to come up with solutions; it’s my favorite thing to do. I want to be the hero of my own story,” Stitt said.

Although her run as senator will cease as the quarter comes to an end, Stitt fully intends to stay involved in student government, and has already applied to serve next year. “I won’t be leaving anytime soon,” Stitt said. “It’s been a great experience.”

Students interested in clubs or seeking information on upcoming events can contact Stitt at [email protected] or schedule an appointment during her office hours from 12:00 to 5:00 p.m. She can also be found staring in the upcoming Ten-minute play festival.

Honoring our soldiers


Honoring our soldiers

Ismael Rodriguez Staff Writer

A veteran who attends the College, Michael works in the Veteran Center on the fourth floor of the Cascade building
A veteran who attends the College, Michael works in the Veteran Center on the fourth floor of the Cascade building

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance, one where those who have fallen while serving the United States military are honored. Yet, its origins are obscure. In previous years, there has been no set way to honor the dead, and many places do so with varying methods.

After three years of this, Maj. Gen. John A. Logan established the May 5, in 1856 Decoration Day. Later on May 5, 1966 President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, N.Y. the birthplace of Memorial Day. This day was to honor the soldiers who died in the Civil War.

After World War I that day was expanded to include any U.S. Soldier who died fighting in any American wars. Later the Government turned the day into a three-day weekend and passed a law “The National Moment of Remembrance Act,” which is a time of silence to honor them.

That is how Memorial Day became a day to remember veterans from all of America’s military history. Yet, veterans are more than the dead warriors or grizzled soldiers people expect, they are the people who helped protect and build this country. Take Michael Lathrop for example.

Lathrop was greatly influenced to join the military from seeing his grand father. “I just remember growing up, seeing him in his dress blues, wearing his uniform and just being so proud of him and what he stood for. Ya’ know, it was very special for me,” Lathrop said. After High school he joined the Army after much deliberation.

Lathrop took a lot from the Military. It instilled a discipline and organizational thinking, structure and schedule. “It’s really helped me keep everything on task, on schedule and on time. It’s helped me organize my schedules: from the daily activities of my life to my academic career,”Lathrop said.

It has also given him the tools he needs to do what he what he wants outside of the military. The military has given him confidence; want more for his family, himself and education.

“That transition from the military lifestyle to the college experience is very challenging. Especially when you’re so used to being in the military,” Lathrop said. He was in the Army for eight and a half years. Without the support of his unit, he found he had to drive himself.

Lathrop is working towards a computer associates in computer engineer. He attends the Puyallup campus in the evening and the army helped show him what he wanted to do. While in the military he found he enjoyed communications. “I loved what I did. The tinkering, the mechanics of communications, I’ve just always enjoyed that.” He graduates June 13 and looks forward to the next steps in life.

“When you look at the basic foundation of, you know, what the army or what the military can be, you know you have the discipline, the respect,those leadership capabilities, that selfless service, that honor and those integrities. You carry those with you outside of being in the military, which plays a significant role with those you interact with, fellow peers here at the college. It also helps you relate with other veteran students.”

These veterans, whether they be dead or living, are people who deserve to be honored for their contributions, and sacrifices.

TRIO Director helps student future



New Director of TRIO draws from her past to help students with their future

Holly Buchanan Contributing Writer

Pierce College’s new Director of TRIO, Dawn Reed is able to follow her passion for education by helping students achieve a higher education.

For the past 15 years, she has been helping prepare students for college success. In the past, Reed has worked with the city of Seattle to help TRIO students. She was employed by the City of Seattle’s Human Services Department Upward Bound TRIO program. Reed was a counselor for this TRIO program serving low income and first generational college bound students, in six local high schools. She also worked in Tacoma Community College’s Educational Talent Search program.

Reed was born in Honolulu, and raised in Seattle, where she graduated from Chief Sealth High School in 1993.

Since elementary school Reed had been interested in education. “As a child I knew I wanted to be a teacher,” Reed said.

She helped her classmates with their homework and started advising her peers. Although she had the capability of teaching her peers she didn’t have confidence in herself. “No one ever told me I was smart,” Reed said.

Her teachers asked her to join the Honors program in elementary school. “My teachers planted the seeds of encouragement and confidence that I didn’t get from home,” she said.

Reed was raised by a single parent, her mother, while her father was in jail.

She attended Northwest University for two years before she transferred to the University of Alaska Fairbanks on a full-ride basketball scholarship she received after a coach saw her play. In 1998, Reed received her Bachelors of Arts in Social Work with a minor in education, and earned her Master of Business Administration in 2006.

“Majoring in social work helped me to deal with my own personal childhood issues,” Reed said. “In order for me to help youth I needed to first help myself and sort through all my issues.”

In her free time, Reed volunteers as a coach and a mentor at two local nonprofit organizations. Reed coaches an all-girls basketball team through PUSH basketball, along with her daughter, to continue fulfilling her passion for basketball.

She also spends time teaching workshops through Education with a Purpose for the Pacific Islanders, where she works with parents and students to help them understand what they need to do to earn a college degree.

Design tutor and student nears graduation



Daniel Konicek Staff Writer

The Digital Design program at Pierce College is known for providing education in a wide variety of digital art and publishing programs, and for one student it has been a kickstart to a potential new career. As she nears the end of the certification, digital design student Kendra Pfeiffer tutors other students and anticipates a fresh start.

“I had just gotten laid off in 2012, so I had an opportunity, I thought it would be great to have a career and not just a job,” Pfeiffer said. “I thought it would be fun to have something that I enjoy doing. It was either art or animals, and art paid better and I already have five [animals] so I figured I would go for digital design.”

It can be incredibly confusing tackling the different programs and techniques. Luckily for them, Pfeiffer is there to help as an official tutor.

“I’ve always helped people out, I’ve actually had a background with some training in it, so it’s been my natural inclination to help them succeed.” Pfeiffer said. “I was already helping people out in Doreen’s classes last quarter and they announced they needed tutors, and Doreen said ‘You’d be great at it, go do it.’”

The choice of Digital Design has turned out well for her, as it aligns with interests she had long held.

I’ve always loved art; I didn’t think I could make a living of it years ago, but with all the technology and programs and stuff now, you can make a living at it,” Pfeiffer said. “It’s such a broad range of skills in the digital design program, and so far I’ve loved all of it. It doesn’t matter what direction I go with it, as long as I’m being creative and having fun.”

The decision to return to school itself has also been a positive experience for Pfeiffer. She has been able to practice traditional painting and drawing in addition to her digital assignments and tutoring. Her time at school has energized her.

“My last job wasn’t all that fun, so my confidence level in my artistic ability, people skills have all gone up; its fun being around people with the same likes and interests and the same kind of passions, and everybody in the program has just been great. From administration to whatever, it has just been a great experience.”

After she graduates in June, Pfeiffer will be looking for jobs in the digital design field. Her new skills could lead to many places, perhaps even to a dream job at Pixar. Whatever happens, Pfeiffer is taking away from Pierce something more than a list of skills and programs.

“Being back to school has made me happier than I have been in years. Its just been a great experience,” Pfeiffer said. “I’ve made a lot of close friends, people I want to stay in touch with, maybe one day we could open our own design firm, that would be awesome. Just meeting some new people and new experiences has just been great. I’ve learned a lot and there is so much more to learn.”

Cinco De Mayo at Pierce



Cinco de Mayo allows Mexican and American students to enjoy a common culture

Ismael Rodriguez Staff Writer

In 1861, Mexico was in debt to France, Spain and Britain and couldn’t pay them back. France, Spain and Britain seized a customhouse in Veracruz. They took the customhouse building which managed trade going in and out of the country, as payments to pay for the debt.

After some negotiation with Spain and Britain, they left and withdrew their support for France. France stayed in Mexico and on May 5, 1862, Gen. Ignacio Zaragoza led his smaller force of soldiers (mainly farmers) against the much larger force of French soldiers.Gen. Zaragoza won the battle but not the war. Still, his victory is celebrated on May 5, or Cinco de Mayo, every year.

Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in many ways. The most common is by playing Mariachi music and eating traditional Mexican food.

Although not all people celebrate Cinco De Mayo, it is still remembered. “Cinco de Mayo Was an important battle between Mexico and France,” said ESL student Bertario.

“ In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo doesn’t mean nothing, but in America, I don’t know why everyone talks about Cinco de Mayo,” Santiago, another Pierce ESL student, said. Neither celebrates Cinco de Mayo.

“In Mexico we celebrate (our) Independence Day September 16,” said Santiago. Even though this is the case, it is a celebration that allows Mexican-Americans to connect with their heritage and the culture that they miss.

Many come from Mexico and leave a lot of things at home. They usually leave behind family and friends for the chances they could find in America. Whether it is money to support themselves or to learn, many Mexican immigrants come to America.

Americans are eager to show that they care about others cultures by celebrating the holiday. Though many may not know what Cinco de Mayo it stands for, they still celebrate, using it as a time to bring family together and enjoy the culture of Mexico through its food and music. “My family, we cook lots of traditional Mexican dishes, have family over. We put on some Mexican music and have a blast,” said Dessa, a Pierce student.

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