Cinco de Mayo gets a lot of the attention, but Mexican Independence Day is actually a bigger day in history.
Mexican Independence Day celebrates the date in 1810 when “Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Catholic priest, launched the Mexican War of Independence with the issuing of his ‘Grito de Dolores,’ or ‘Cry of Dolores,’ ” according to History.com. “The revolutionary tract, so named because it was publicly read by Hidalgo in the town of Dolores, called for the end of 300 years of Spanish rule in Mexico, redistribution of land, and racial equality.”
In August 1821, Spain signed the Treaty of Córdoba, which approved a plan to make Mexico an independent constitutional monarchy.
Friday marked the official holiday, and Don Pedro Elementary students who rehearsed a folklorico dance for a couple of weeks got to share the fruits of their labor with schoolmates to commemorate the day.
The children, from different grades, all take a Friday afternoon enrichment class with teacher Danielle Ray. Ray’s mother, also a teacher, “used to do it with her class, and that’s how I learned to do it. She wanted me to carry on the tradition,” said Ray, a second-year teacher in the Ceres Unified School District.
“This is hers,” she said, gesturing to her mother’s dress she wore Friday, “from her traditional region of Mexico.”
This is the first year Ray has taught folklorico dance to Ceres students, but she previously had classes perform for several years when she taught in the Bay Area.
“The kiddos looked very excited” as they performed at Don Pedro’s daily schoolwide assembly on the blacktop Friday morning, said Assistant Principal Mary Ramer. “It was neat, too, to see the parents’ faces and the cameras up and ready to take their child’s picture.”
Families were so proud to see their children participating in something that connects to their heritage and culture, she said.
“He’s been excited all week,” dad Raymond Lopez said after congratulating his son Marcos Prado Diaz, who wore new black cowboy boots for the occasion. He had a new black hat, too, but couldn’t wear it because Ray wanted all the boys in matching white hats.
Mexico’s struggle for independence is worked into the curriculum through the English and language arts component, Ramer said. The folklorico presentation in particular “came out of our enrichment program, which is done every Friday,” she said. “It came from the teachers. It was their idea to offer students opportunities to express themselves and do things beyond the typical curriculum.”
Other enrichment opportunities have ranged from creating origami to learning to play tennis. “It’s a variety of things for the students’ variety of interests,” Ramer said. The topics are “the brainchildren of the teachers, so they get to do what they they enjoy, too, share that with the kids and build relationships.”
Deke Farrow: 209-578-2327