dy first graders Rachel Porter, left, and Kayleigh Fury perform a Mexican folk dance during the school’s “Fiesta Day” on Wednesday at the school. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)
By Ryan Lengerich: CNJ staff writer
GRADY — A little bit of Mexican influence found its way into a town known for farming and ranching Wednesday.
Grady Elementary students celebrated “Fiesta Day,” and many children who often spend time learning the land, instead were given an educational culture shock.
“They need to know that this is part of New Mexico. We don’t really stress that to much here because we don’t have much of a Hispanic influence,” said Judy Sours, a teacher at the school. “I just feel like there are a lot of fun things to do with the Hispanic culture.”
The day was meant to get the students interested in the culture and set the stage for a December student play based on “Los Posadas,” an event that commemorates Mary and Joseph’s search for lodging in Bethlehem, said Martha Richardson, a kindergarten teacher at the school who organized the theme day.
The school received a $5,000 art grant from the state to funds such programs.
Student’s dressed the part. Boys wore white T-shirts or collard shirts and black pants with a scarf around their waists. The girls wore long, dazzling skirts.
Fourth-grader Trenton Jones wore a 3-foot wide sombrero.
Volunteers from the Grady community helped out. Students learned to make tortillas, fighting the rolling pin through the dough. They learned Spanish dancing and music.
Meghan Grau returned to Grady where she graduated in 1999 before moving on to New Mexico State University. She earned her degree in agriculture economics this year with a minor in Spanish. She taught basic Spanish words and phrases to the students.
“I think New Mexico does a really good job of being culturally diverse, we do have a lot of cultural influence on our day-to-day life with food, speaking,” Grau said. “It broadens their horizons, just to know that there are other opportunities and options and not just one way to do things.”
Richardson said last year the school held a farm day, representing a lifestyle common to the area. This year was a little less familiar.
“We want them to know about our heritage in New Mexico, and a lot of them don’t,” she said. “A lot of them need education to bring that into their curriculum.”