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Woodburn High School hosts the multi-cultural Day of the Child/Dia del Niño in its large and small commons Saturday

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Ladies performs Flor de Piña (Pineapple Flower) Dance during the Dia de Nino event at Woodburn High School.It was a day to promote literacy, witness dance routines and cater to the sweet-tooth inside.

Living up to expectations, the Day of the Child/Dia del Niño drew a hearty, festive turnout to the hosting Woodburn High School campus commons areas on Saturday, April 27.

The four-hour, multi-cultural event featured a wide variety of activities mixed with goodies and entertainment.PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Youth follow one another to dance during the Dia de Niño event at Woodburn High School on Saturday.

The performers included numerous choreographed, precise dance routines put together by Nellie Muir Elementary School's Cosecha Mestiza; a mix of teachers, mentors and students, stepping to music provided by an equal mix with students strumming, drumming and singing to provide the performance music.

The goodies on hand included generous offerings of snow cones, Mexican sweet breads and even some popcorn — a good side to go with the shows.PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Rosa Floyd, a dance instructor for the dance group, Coscha Mestiza, leads her group in dance during the Dia de Nino event at Woodburn High School.

In addition to the dance performances, spectating kids and adults enjoyed watching Taekwondo routines and some educational demonstrations with an engineering bent: bridge testing and egg-drop testing.

An engineering element tinged the crafts as one nifty craft activity afforded popsicle-stick construction, the fruits of which saw youngsters toting covered bridges away as testament to their labors. Another allowed youth to as concoct their own regal headwear.PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - A candle sits on Leslie Leshs head before she dances during the Dia de Nino event at Woodburn High School.

Another corner of the commons revealed adults and kids alike engrossed in a clever picture/word bingo game popular with Mexican culture, La Loteria, during which the announcer drew a card, showed the image on the card to the players and barked out the name of that image. Players looked for that image on their scorecard, striving to mark every space to score the win.

"The event (Day of the Child) always has a tremendous turnout," said Woodburn School District's Executive Secretary to the School Board and Superintendent Jenne Marquez. "We don't charge for anything. We just ask (vendors) that they have a literacy element."

Perhaps truest to that were a couple of stations that allowed for kids to pick out the children's book of their choice.

The vendors were wide reaching: preschool and after-school clubs; Goodwill Job Connection and Woodburn's Worksource chapter; WIC Oregon offering calendars that combined with menus with foods from all around the globe; Woodburn police and fire department representatives; various entities ranging from pediatric health care, to Woodburn Aquatic Center and even the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services and the U.S. Forest Service.PMG PHOTO:  JAIME VALDEZ - Free Mexican sweet bread was plentiful and popular during the Dia del Niño celebration held in the Woodburn High School commons areas Saturday, April 27.

A group of youngsters kept busy coloring in patterns at the Worksource station, while representative Daniel Quinones stood by as a cheery, welcoming host. He said providing information and understanding of different careers that could potentially emerge in the youngsters' future can be a boon at an early age.

"We can teach them about the careers and provide information," Quinones said, describing Worksource as potentially a lifelong tool. "From crib to … let's just say into retirement, we are very much an asset to them, and can help them find what they want to (pursue) in life."

Saturday's turnout appeared to mirror that of predecessors, while the overall Day of the Child was celebrated at many other locations.PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Youth from Coscha Mestiza prepare to dance during the Dia de Nino event at Woodburn High School.

"Typically we have 1,500 attendees over the course of the 4 hours, with some years almost double that," said Stephan Price, program coordinator with Woodburn School District's Instructional Services.

Price said the group performances and invariably popular. He added that weather is often a predictor of attendance; rainy weather that may cancel outdoor sporting events often boosts attendance.

"Our most popular attractions are the STEM events that draw students from across the district to compete with their eggs/bridges, the Mariachi Band (which had a last-minute cancellation), the Cosecha Mestiza dance group, and Taekwondo," Price said. "These events bring entire families to watch the performances."

Price noted that Dia is a world-wide event held on different days of the year. This year's Woodburn undertaking was among the best he has seen.

"This year's Day of the Child was very smooth overall, possibly the best ever," Price said. "I was really pleased with the quality of the performances, the caliber of exhibitors present, and the number of families that came to an indoor school event despite the sunny weather.  

"The After School Club in particular was very helpful, as were the high school custodial staff, who really go out of their way to support the event," he added.  

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Youth from Coscha Mestiza dance during the Dia de Nino event at Woodburn High School.

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