Swing-o de Mayo
By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN
It had been a few years since Washington Elementary School celebrated Cinco de Mayo. And the students were more than ready Monday.
They giggled with glee as classmates swung at pinatas -- some more successfully than others -- anxiously awaiting the final whop that would reveal the goodies inside.
Six different pinatas arrived at the Hays school a week before the celebration, and each class got to choose the one they liked the best.
It was almost more than the youngsters could stand to see the pinatas stuffed with candy hanging above their classroom doors for several days.
"They definitely were ready," said Principal Allen Park, whose enrollment is approximately 50 percent Hispanic.
Before they got to the fun stuff, each class participated in a short history lesson in the gym with Yareli Resendiz, an ELL para professional.
"May 5th," several fourth-graders shouted when quizzed on the meaning of Cinco de Mayo.
Resendiz told students how Cinco de Mayo isn't celebrated in Mexico but rather adapted by the United States and how a band of only 4,000 Mexican soldiers defeated an attacking force of 8,000 French soldiers May 5, 1862.
But it was hard to hold the students' attention long. They had more important things on their minds.
When Resendiz finished her talk, they quickly jumped in line, each with their own bandana ready to be blindfolded and take their turn at the pinata.
Alan Apodaca was the first to do some real damage to the orange fish, knocking off an eyeball and its tail.
They laughed when Daniel Martinez took a mighty swing and missed the pinata altogether.
They awaited patiently as teacher Jordan Ottley raised the pinata back in the air after each hit.
Estefani Ramirez got the loudest cheers when she found a weakened spot and busted a large hole in the back of the fish.
After each student grabbed a bag of candy, they were treated to Mexican food, drinks and activities outdoors on the playground at several stations manned by volunteers, including Fort Hays State University students.
It was a perfect way to end a Monday, Park said.
Even with a jam-packed schedule through May, Park said he was glad parents and teachers brought back the celebration this year.
"Some of the older students were talking about it, remembered (the celebration) from when they were kindergartners or first-graders," he said.
"It's been four or five years since we've had one. It was time. They sure enjoy it."