Day: April 10, 2020

Students showcase talents during WBCA youth festival

Students showcase talents during WBCA youth festival

By Vanessa Santos
Bridge Contributing Writer
Published March 30, 2020

Some of Laredo’s most talented voices and dancers performed in the WBCA Youth Song and Dance Festival to celebrate Washington’s Birthday Celebration.

This event was sponsored by IBC Bank on Feb. 8 at the Guadalupe and Lilia Martinez Fine Arts Theater at Laredo College.

“I love to bring my family to these events to show them the importance of supporting our local talents,” Juan Jose Garcia said.

Garcia attended the Washington Celebration events each year since his childhood. His mother and father brought him to these events, which he said he loves and wants to pass on that tradition to his own children.

Parents provided support to their performing children by wearing their child’s school shirt and cheering them on while on stage.

“This is my second time performing and I like to see my mom so excited when I am dancing,” young DD Hachar Elementary School dancer Tessa Garza said.

In addition to Laredo talent, IBC granted two high school seniors a $1,000 academic scholarship. Esmeralda Hernandez and Juan Capetillo were selected based on their community involvement, academic merits and extracurricular activities.

One of five children in her household, Hernandez attends Hector J. Garcia Early College High School, currently ranked No. 26 in her class with an “A” GPA. She is an active member of the Newspaper Club and is a volunteer at the library. Esmeralda has been involved in the SCANN Program, Chick-fil-A Academy, National Honor Society and Border Patrol Program. She plans to attend Texas A&M International University to pursue a degree in environmental science and botany.

Capetillo is from Dr. Leonides G. Cigarroa High School, ranked No. 18 in his school with a current GPA of 4.0. He is involved in orchestra, VMT mariachi, the CHS Mariachi and all-region Mariachi members, and plans to attend the University of Texas at San Antonio to pursue a degree in music education and history.

“Having community involvement shape the minds of our young students might just make a difference in Laredo’s future,” mother of two Grecia Tello said.

Tello said she teaches her two children, ages 5 and 7, that community involvement is the essential role to success and, “It has been proven today.”

Apart from the $1,000 scholarships, there were five schools awarded $300 donations courtesy of IBC. The schools included: Prada Elementary Dance Team, F.D. Roosevelt Elementary Cheer Team, St. Augustine High School, San Isidro Elementary Raptorettes and Martin High School Cheer.

The WBCA Youth and Dance Festival brought many talent groups from dancers to cheerleaders to show their talents. The Washington Birthday Celebration was founded in 1898 and continues to grow to be a month-long celebration.

After six whole weeks of events throughout the city, the festivities came to a close with the big , bright fireworks diplay on Feb. 29, leap year day. WBCA’s way of ending the annual events with a bang.

As of now, there is no word regarding next year’s plans.

Share

‘Invisible Graves’ focus of speech

‘Invisible Graves’ focus of speech

By Andrea Martinez
Bridge contributing writer
Published March 30, 2020

Near the U.S.-Mexico border, there are high numbers of unknown dead migrants. These migrants are buried in trash bags in forgotten unmarked graves.

Professor Kate Spradley, a forensic anthropologist at Texas State University, presented “Invisible Graves: Migrant Deaths in the Texas Desert” at TAMIU. She quoted Sheriff Martinez of Brooks County, Texas, “For every person found, there are at least five that are not found.”

Spradley said Brooks County is recognized as “Death Valley” for all the migrants passing through. It is a little further from the border; however, it bears the highest migrant death toll for Texas border towns since 2009. They bury the unknown migrants in the Sacred Heart Burial Park. Most were found in trash bags—about 12 migrants in one grave. They were also buried along with personal belongings and trash.

“Until 2013, people were buried and forgotten in unmarked graves in Brooks County,” Spradley said.

She said Arizona’s medical examiner tries to identify the victims and contact each family. In Webb County, there is a medical examiner; however, they also try to help six other counties in this assessment, making the work more difficult.

One of the other counties the medical examiner takes care of is Cameron and Willacy counties. Spradley investigated the site with her students and they found that when they were told they would find 31 buried bodies, they found up to 70 instead.

In Cameron and Willacy counties, they have paupers’ graves, along with migrants, buried in the middle of nowhere. Paupers are people who died and could not afford proper funerals; however, they lived in the U.S. and likely died of natural causes. Spradley said her team could tell the difference because of the way they are buried. Migrants are kind of just thrown into trash bags with their personal belongings and maybe some trash. Paupers’ graves, on the other hand, are buried with a certain position and are placed more carefully.

When she removed personal belongings found in the graves, she and her team washed them and tried to see if there was anything to help identify the body.

“People carry a variety of things with them when they migrate,” Spradley said. “Personal effects are key for family.”

She mentioned a story of a migrant who died and his sister recognized his shoes and that is how she was able to place a name on the recovered body.

“What about the unidentified bodies that were cremated and the ashes were mishandled?” history major Joshua Grajeda asked Spradley during a Q&A, following her presentation.

“Texas Court of Federal Procedures … you are not allowed to cremate unidentified remains but about five years ago in the health and safety code, they put in there that you can … when approved by a county judge,” Spradley responded.

Share