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The City Journals

Hillside Elementary celebrates Children’s Day with soccer, music and art

Jun 10, 2019 01:33PM ● By Jess Nielsen Beach

Students raise their hands when asked if they want to attend college. (Jess Nielsen Beach/City Journals)

By Jess Nielsen Beach | [email protected]

Children’s Day was celebrated on April 30 by the students of Hillside Elementary with a presentation of art, music and sports. 

“We are honored to be partnering with the Mexican consulate here in Salt Lake for this very special occasion,” said Hillside principal Deborah Woolley. “We are grateful to them for what they have done and for reaching out to us and being able to do this special celebration with us today.” 

Packed to capacity with attendees, the auditorium was decorated with the students’ colorful drawings and pictures, all capturing their take on idols and impressive persons of Mexico, in hopes of winning a contest that was issued weeks prior.

The first speaker was West Valley City Mayor Ron Bigelow, who addressed the children and emphasized the responsibility they have before them. 

“It’s fun to come to schools and see what the future of our city looks like,” Bigelow said. “As I look out here, I’m reminded that West Valley City is made up of many different nations, cultures and languages. Some of you will speak those languages in your home, and I encourage you to remember those.”

He continued to speak on immigrants and the importance their heritage lends to the United States as a whole. “Unfortunately, many groups came to this country and their parents spoke another language, they learned English, but their children and grandchildren did not maintain their language. That is a great loss to our country, because we need all of those languages as we come closer and closer as neighbors.”

Martin Bates, superintendent of Granite School District, was also on hand to encourage and address the students. 

“Don’t just go to college. Graduate from college,” Bates said. He then asked the teachers in the room to raise their hands if they had attended a university. 

An outburst of surprise and awe came from the students as they looked around and saw every hand up. With this example, the children proceeded to raise their hands enthusiastically when asked if they planned to attend college as well.

The students in the Dual Language Immersion program then stood, many sporting intricate headdresses. Several upbeat songs were performed, all in Spanish, to a delighted audience filled with teachers, parents and community members.

On hand to congratulate and thank the children in the audience was the Head Consul of Mexico in Salt Lake City, José Borjón.

“Today, in all the schools of my country, they are celebrating Children’s Day,” Borjón said. “The schools in Mexico have festivals, games, prizes and singing like we’ve had today. But remember it’s not just about enjoying yourself. Remember that you have rights. You should work and study and protect yourself and your rights, and as families and parents, we should work hand-in-hand with that.”

Borjón closed by announcing his commitment to donate Spanish language textbooks to the school. 

“As a consulate, a city, as authorities, we are committed in helping you succeed,” said Borjón.

The celebration of culture came to a head when Oxaca, a dance group specializing in traditional Mexican dances and costumes, took the stage. The women were adorned with full skirts, braided hair and vivid colors, while the men wore charro outfits and heeled boots. 

Monica Velazquez and her husband teach dance classes in the community. 

“We love teaching the children,” Velazquez said. “We teach all ages, from kindergarten up to teenagers.” 

The last event was the appearance of two REAL Salt Lake soccer players, Julian Vazquez and Sebastian Saucedo. Each spoke to the children about hard work and the importance of parental support. 

“I was a young soccer player, training with his dad every day,” Saucedo said. “I think the support from parents is the most important thing. If you can support your kids with whatever sport they like and you dedicate your time with them, it will pay off in the future.”

The players discussed their rise to become team members of RSL, including attending RSL’s academy and participating in games across the world, including Mexico and South Korea.  

“My favorite field to play on was in Mexico,” Vazquez said. “They have a really nice facility for the national team. We’ve had a lot of games there, and it’s a neat experience.” 

The students were then issued a challenge. Hillside’s High Flyer awards, which reward great citizenship on the playground, were announced with a special prize: at the end of May, a drawing from the recipients will receive jerseys, shirts, soccer balls and more from RSL.

The high-energy event concluded with the presentation of the winning mural, which Borjón accepted with a smile. 

“Thank you so much,” Borjón said. “This has been an incredible day of celebration.”