HARLINGEN — Shortly after lunch, 11 seventh-grade students were told to hop on the bus and gear up for a big surprise.
Their teachers told them where they were going, but it was the police escort that made them feel and look like celebrities.
As they reached their final destination, a 7-Eleven on S. Expressway 83, the children were greeted by happy members of the Harlingen Police Department and Harlingen U.S. Border Patrol personnel.
Yesterday, the students from Memorial Middle School were recognized for exhibiting positive behavior, good deeds, and had demonstrated “team work” throughout the school year.
Upon arrival, the kids were ushered into the store where they received their choice of a slurpee and cookies.
For an hour out of their day, Noah Gonzalez, David Lopez, Noah Sanchez, Jesse Jimenez, Cassandra Rocha, Haleigh Lucio, De Ann Ruiz, Miranda Rendon, Ricardo Saldana, Amya Villerreal, and Abraham Coronado had the opportunity to spend time with the leaders in their community, sip slurpees and talk about the perks of being a good citizen.
Their teacher, Maria Martinez said a team of seventh-grade teachers were tasked with choosing the kids.
“We were asked to choose 11 kids that we have seen an improvement in academically and behaviorally,” she said. “A lot of the kids have had a big turn around since the beginning of the year.”
They were monitored through their grades and participation. All of them are transitioning successfully to the eighth grade.
Border Patrol Agent in Charge of the Harlingen Station, Henry Leo, said his office jumps at every chance to educate future leaders.
“We think it’s a good investment to go out and talk to kids about staying motivating and making good decisions,” he said. “Hopefully we can clear up any question about our role in the community.”
It’s something the border patrol has done for years.
Leo said they have had a standing partnership with the school district and police department.
“The border patrol has always had good relationships with other entities, whether it is through drug awareness, community involvement and education,” he said.
Before the request for multiple group photos was announced, Leo, Superintendent Dr. Art Cavazos and Police Chief Jeffry Adickes huddled with the kids, giving them sage advice the leaders hoped they would take with them when they move forward.
Every one of you has been identified as having good behavior and have done good deeds, Cavazos said.
As future leaders, Cavazos reminded the children to always protect their name, always do the right thing and live without regret.
“Being identified for this is something you should be proud of,” Adickes said to the children who were sipping on slurpees listening intently.