Frederiksen Elementary School Families Unite to Celebrate the “Children’s Day”
As we turn the calendar to May, one of the first notable dates is Mother’s Day. Contrary to popular belief, this day was not created by a commercial enterprise. Rather, it became a nationally recognized holiday due to the efforts of Anna Jarvis of West Virginia. After Anna’s mother passed away in 1905, she sought a way to honor her and all mothers. Through her active campaigning, the second Sunday of each May would be known as Mother’s Day. It became official when President Woodrow Wilson signed the proclamation in 1914.
On the other hand, Children’s Day is celebrated all around the globe and at many different times throughout the year. Universal Children’s Day is not just a moment to celebrate young people. Rather, it is a movement to bring awareness to those that have succumbed to violence, abusive circumstances, exploitation and discrimination. It is hard not to think about children that have been displaced by either natural disasters or in areas of armed conflict.
For years, Frederiksen Elementary School teacher Lynette Butsuda has been a supporter of Puentes Unidos. She has actively sought to provide a bridge to Latino parents. By percentage, Frederiksen houses the highest number of Latino or mixed race students. So, the benefits of forming this organization have become obvious. However, in order to achieve maximum exposure, a weeknight event was needed. Recently, Lynette joined forces with Lupita Barattino of Cultura Y Bienestar. Cultura is a mental heal program dedicated to the Latino community in the Tri-Valley. Lupita volunteered to work with the parent group and to organize a gathering. On Thursday, April 30th – the same day that it is celebrated in Mexico, Frederiksen opened its doors to the lunch pavilion at 6:00 PM. The occasion was the first Dia del Nino or Children’s Day. Dozens of parents, children and their families filed in to enjoy an evening of games, snacks and fellowship. We sat down with Ms. Butsuda to discuss the significance of this celebration.
OneDublin.org: Please describe how this event came to fruition. What were the driving forces behind making sure that Celebration Dia del Nino became a reality at Frederiksen Elementary School?
Lynette Bustuda: “Lupita Barattino, a counselor from Cultura Y Bienestar, starting working with our Frederiksen Latino Family Group, Puentes Unidos, in January. She is now leading our twice a month after-school parent group. At the beginning of March the parents decided they wanted to create a Dia del Niño celebration as they remembered when they were young. Everyone starting organizing and were eager to share this tradition and experience with their children. It was the first time for most in organizing a school event so we were fortunate to have Lupita. Lupita is used to organizing events for Cultura, so she was able to give guidance and suggestions. The whole group worked incredibly well in making this a success. My part? I watched their children while they planned!”
OneDublin.org: There appeared to be a high level of coordination to ensure that games were to be played and that snacks would be available. Please point out specific parent volunteers that made everything run so smoothly tonight.
Butsuda: “The core group of volunteers who planned were, in alphabetical order: Laura Agredano, Silvia Cruz Vicente, Elisa Guerrero, Laura Gonzalez, Rosaura Hernandez, Maria Lopez, Matilde Munoz. Husbands also helped a lot and came to the organizational meetings.”
OneDublin.org: Frederiksen Elementary School probably has the highest concentration of Latino or mixed raced students in the District. Please highlight the value of planning an event such as Celebration Dia del Nino for its constituents.
Butsuda: “As with all school events, it is a chance for families to have a relaxed time to reconnect with acquaintances and to meet new families. They already have something in common – their Frederiksen children. With the Puentes Unidos events, the commonality is even closer. These are families who either share a similar Latino culture or who would like to know more about it.
“Tonight I heard a number of parents say they wanted to share more of their culture with their children but sometimes children don’t want to feel ‘different’ outside the home. At events, such as this, children see many families just like theirs in a public school setting. It is OK to be speaking Spanish, and in fact, most adults are. One parent said she wished she could have recorded her son reading and singing the lyrics to some of the traditional Spanish folk songs!
“I also heard many children, including 4th and 5th graders, say they had never played lotería (a bingo-type game) and the 6-sided top game called Tomo Todo, but that they loved them and wanted to play it at home!”
OneDublin.org: Lynette, anything else that you would like to add?
Butsuda: “Puentes Unidos has had nothing but encouragement from our administration and staff here at Fred. This includes Holly Scroggins, our past principal, and our current principal, Claire Mognaga. Staff has supported Puentes Unidos from supplies to ideas.”
So, Puentes Unidos successfully brought out a segment of the community. It was an encouraging sight to observe families making new connections and to watch children gaining an even greater appreciation of their culture. It is also a reminder that schools are so much more than classrooms and textbooks.