School district kicks off year with fundraiser luncheon

HARLINGEN — “Weeeee are the champions, my friends!”

Bianca Rios sang powerfully into the microphone to welcome those attending the Partners in Education Luncheon yesterday at Casa de Amistad.

The Harlingen Area Education Foundation hosted the luncheon titled “Building Bridges between Private Industry and HCISD.”

It was held to benefit the Harlingen school district’s academies, innovative teaching grants, student scholarships and at-risk student programs.

“We’re here to both raise funds and to increase our partnerships within the community,” said Shane Strubhart, spokesperson for the Harlingen school district.

About 300 representatives from numerous businesses and other entities attended the event.

HAEF assists the Harlingen school district with the implementation of programs, projects, and grants. It accomplishes this purpose through partnering with local businesses that sponsor HAEF. The luncheon raised a considerable amount of money through ticket sales.

Student talent from throughout the district opened the event, including a quartet made up of high school students who played near the entrance. Hannah Rosenbaum, a senior from Harlingen High School, belted out several mariachi tunes.

Cheerleaders from the Dr. Abraham P. Cano Freshman Academy spread their energy throughout the room. John Duncan and Mary Kate Holder performed a segment from their upcoming production of “Mary Poppins,” and Aaron Blount gave her usual stellar performance.

Guest speaker Julian Alvarez from the Texas Workforce Commission commended the school district on several fronts.

“Technology is changing every day,” he said. “Dr. Cavazos, that’s what I love about what you’re doing with the school board. You are keeping up with the change. Hats off to you.”

Superintendent Art Cavazos, keynote speaker, pointed out that students today are the CEOs of tomorrow, and that carries a heavy responsibility for educators.

“Our goal is to ensure students are college, career and community ready,” he said.

He emphasized the importance of the 4Cs as outlined in the district’s Strategic Plan: communication, creativity, collaboration and critical thinking.

“We don’t work in isolation,” he said. “We have to collaborate and communicate with each other.”

Everyone seemed delighted by the turnout.

“We are excited to bring the community together,” said Belinda Cavazos-Zapata, of HAEF.

“What we are looking for is to build bridges between the community and the Harlingen school district,” she said. “We have scholarships for kids. We have grants for teachers that have an innovative idea. We try to raise money so we can allocate more scholarships.”