116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Home / News / Education / K-12 Education
‘Busy gal’ Sarah Tokpa active in Prairie High community
Graduate heavily involved in athletics, show choir, church and volunteering
CEDAR RAPIDS — Sarah Tokpa is learning about her Togolese culture, even performing a traditional dance this year at Prairie High School’s Black History Month assembly.
Tokpa said it’s “pretty hard low key” being a Black girl in a predominantly white school like Prairie. She’s often the only Black person in advanced placement classes. In show choir, she couldn’t style her hair in the way chosen for the other girls this year — fashioned for white beauty standards.
“I have to modify myself to fit their standards,” she said.
Tokpa, 18, is one of 387 students graduating from Prairie High School at 12:30 p.m. May 27 at the Alliant Energy PowerHouse in Cedar Rapids.
Tokpa’s parents immigrated in 2002 to the United States from Togo, a country on the coast of West Africa. While born in the United States, she enjoys cooking traditional Togolese food like Fufu, a dish made from boiled yams mashed into a dough and served with a variety of sauces and side dishes.
It’s “important to know where you come from,” she said. Family celebrations are “really big,” “out of control” parties. “Nobody is afraid to show what they can do dancing-wise,” she said.
Tokpa performed this month in Prairie High’s spring musical “Catch Me If You Can.” Performing and dancing are her favorite hobbies. “That’s something that really gets my mind off things,” she said.
At Prairie, Tokpa has been heavily involved in show choir, color guard, speech, student council and athletics, including volleyball, basketball, track and cheer. She almost went out for wrestling during its inaugural year as a girls’ sport, but she didn’t have time.
“I’m a busy gal,” Tokpa said with a laugh.
She’s also volunteered with the Prairie Cares Initiative, which collects and distributes food, clothing and hygiene items within the school community. She also was instrumental in getting the Red Basket Project off the ground at the high school. The effort ensures period supplies are made accessible in restrooms.
Tokpa even helped organize Prairie High’s first Black History Month Assembly in February.
Her church, Calvary Baptist, and her faith are incredibly important to her.
Matthew Slippy, associate pastor of youth ministries at Calvary Baptist Church, said Tokpa’s “love for Jesus is real and genuine.”
“She will be a leader wherever she goes,” he said.
Tokpa is enlisted in the National Guard, going to basic training at Fort Jackson in South Carolina this summer. In the spring, she will start her continuing education at Grace College in Winona Lake, Ind. where she is studying criminal justice with a double minor in Biblical studies and theater.
Comments: (319) 398-8411; firstname.lastname@example.org