This article originally appeared in the May 3, 2019 issue of the Progress Times.
Children and LJISD staff donned their best jungle- and animal-wear for this year’s celebration of children.
For about five years, the La Joya Independent School District has put on a celebration for Dia de los Niños, Public School Volunteer Week, National Autism Awareness Month, Military-Connected Child Month, National Child Abuse Prevention Month, Library Month and Mental Health Awareness Month. This year, the theme was “Fiesta in the Jungle.”
“Our parents love it when our kids perform in any way,” Saenz said. “This is a really good opportunity for parents to be involved.”
Saenz said that parental involvement leads to further success and motivation within the student population.
“The greater the parental engagement is, the higher the student achievement is,” Saenz said. “So we look forward for any opportunity to have our parents be involved.”
The event featured a parade of schools, showcasing some of the students, staff and the teacher of the year marching around the La Joya ISD Stadium as parents lined the sidewalks and bleachers. Saenz noted that the event has grown over the last few years.
“One of the things we want to do is give kids as many opportunities to do what their interests are,” Saenz said. “Any opportunity that we can provide for that, I think the kids enjoy it and it helps with their social skills and with their speaking skills.”
The Fiesta in the Jungle was spread over a large area behind the LJISD Central Office, and also included Career Technical Education Booths, student performances in the board room, free games and food for purchase.
Palmview High School Teacher of the Year Jimmy Aguilar attended the event for the first time. He was impressed with the turnout and the student participation, and said it was a good time for students to get their minds off testing.
“Especially during this time [of the year], there’s a lot of testing, making sure that at the high school level the kids are going to be college-ready and graduate,” Aguilar said. “I think it’s important to remind them that we do appreciate and celebrate them.”
“It’s kind of cool to see everybody dressed up,” Aguilar added. “It’s La Joya, and La Joya is ‘go big or go home,’ so I know that no matter what, it’s going to be an amazing event.”
Miriam Tellez, the School Counseling Director, was busy ensuring the event went smoothly. She noted that it was a team effort that made the Fiesta in the Jungle a success.
“It was led by the Student Services department, but it’s [because of] every department in the district,” Tellez said. “People look forward to it.”
Tellez said the event was a time to show students that the district cares about them.
“It’s a time to showcase our schools and what they have to offer,” Tellez said. “The principals walk with a lot of pride with their kids, so we’re very excited every year to see it.”