PORT ISABEL — They worked hard all school year and now it’s time to play.
A colorful row of video arcade games in all sizes were on display at Derry Elementary waiting to be selected by a scholarly student.
The McDonald’s Play Van made a visit to Port Isabel on Tuesday to recognize two of Point Isabel ISD’s top elementary students.
As Imagine Learning leaders, third grade student Jacinda Silva and second grade student Niraimathi Elangovan were able to select a video arcade game they could have delivered to their home to use for a week.
Heidi Aleman, Derry Elementary’s summer school lead teacher, explained that Imagine Learning is a math and literacy program the school district implemented.
“It’s a platform where students get to practice their math and reading skills through activities, engagement, passages and games,” she said. “The kids really enjoy seeing their name on a leaderboard on a weekly basis.”
Jacinda and Niraimathi completed more than 100 lessons in the program and their names were often displayed on the leaderboard throughout the year.
Jacinda said her secret to being an Imagine Learning leader is making sure to read at least one hour a day.
Niraimathi said she likes to read the passages because they give her fun facts she enjoys sharing with others.
Aleman is proud of the students for being able to continue thriving throughout all of the obstacles and difficulties the world experienced this year.
“I want to acknowledge the parental support that these kids have,” Aleman added. “I thank the parents for raising such bright kids and pushing them to do their best in school.”
The visit from the McDonald’s Play Van is part of a program created in the Rio Grande Valley by McDonald’s owner operators through the Laugh and Giggles production company.
McDonald’s Fun Ambassador Andy Vielma explained that the program visits elementary schools throughout the Rio Grande Valley to reward children who have been selected by their school.
“We’ve been working with McDonald’s for over 30 years doing different types of events for schools and the community,” Vielma said. “There’s over 300 elementary schools in the Valley. They’re given the opportunity free of charge.”
Vielma said watching the students experience this surprise and be rewarded is amazing to see.
“All of these kids are the future and the heroes of tomorrow,” he said. “Kids are going to change the world and make it a better place.”