HARLINGEN — Lilah Morales gingerly ran a strip of newspaper through the gooey liquid before placing it on a balloon.
“Lunes, Martes, Miercoles, Jueves,” she and her fellow classmates sang as they worked on their piñatas in Juanita Moya’s “Hablemos Espanol.”
“We are learning very basic Spanish here,” Moya said while standing in the classroom at Travis Elementary.
“It’s a week-long program,” she said. “We started out with asking each other our names and things like that and now we’re working on our age and our birthday today. We’ve been working on the pinatas.”
Moya is one of many teachers presenting classes at Travis and Bowie elementaries, Harlingen High School, Gutierrez Middle School and several other schools this summer.
It’s part of the Harlingen school district’s “Beyond the Bell” program. Those classes include CPR certification, Sweet Treats Cooking Class, folkloric dancing and Science Palooza. The students can try their hands at chess, work on STEM projects and learn about the medical profession.
“Our ‘Beyond the Bell’ program is exactly like it sounds,” said Alicia Noyola, chief academic officer for the Harlingen school district.
“It’s programming we offer our students beyond the end of the school year,” she said. “It’s really designed to be an enrichment program during the summer months. We really want students’ minds to be stimulated; we want them to be energized.”
It also helps avoid the mind-numbing mediocrity of a whole summer spent in front of the television or playing video games. Assisting in this effort are teachers who are willing to give of their time during their off time, teaching kids not just about their academic prowess but also special hobbies they like to do on the side.
“When you look at our program you see activities that maybe are not academic but they are designed to give kids the opportunity to explore and try something different,” Noyola said. “We’ve had a really great response from students in the community.”
Of course there’s more to Spanish than the language itself, Moya said.
“We’ve also been playing games like chalupa and learning where those came from,” she said. “They’re learning how Spanish came to the United States and this part of the world.”
The kids seemed to be having a great time.
“It’s awesome,” said Lilah, 10. “The students here are great and the teachers are also nice and it’s fun here. I’ve enjoyed getting to know the people here and making the piñatas as well.”
Sylas Conde, 9, was enjoying himself, too.
“I’ve enjoyed asking the teachers the questions about Spanish,” he said. “I want to learn a little bit more.”
SOME CLASSES OFFERED BY BEYOND THE BELL
French Language and Culture
Hip Hop/Jazz/Lyrical Dance
Crochet for Beginners
STEM Electrical Technology
SCHOOLS WHERE CLASSES ARE BEING HELD
Gutierrez Middle School
Vela Middle School
Harlingen High School
Harlingen High School South
Harlingen School of Health Professions
FOR MORE DETAILS ABOUT BEYOND THE BELL: