School lets out today

By Helena Rodriguez, PNT Staff Writer

Almost as soon as school bells ring for the final time today — signaling the official beginning of summer vacation in Portales — gates to the city swimming pool open to the public.

According to Shelly McConnell, head of the city Recreation Department, general admission prices at the swimming pool will go up from $1 last year to $2 this year. Adult admission for those 18 and over will remain at $3.

The swimming pool opens at 1 p.m. today.

On Tuesday, Steiner Elementary School students treated their “fire buddies” from the Portales Fire Department to hot dogs during an end-of-school picnic at City Park. In response, firefighters treated students to a dousing by their super powered fire hose.

“These firemen have been our fire buddies all year and so — for the past nine years — we thank them by cooking hot dogs for them,” Steiner Principal Rebecca Flen said. “They do activities with the children throughout the year, teaching them about safety.”

Portales fire battalion chief Lance Hill said that through the buddy program, each shift adopts five classrooms and educates them about bicycle, Halloween, summer and fire safety.

“These are our ‘bomberos.’ We love them!” said bilingual education teacher Gloria Tapia, referring to the firefighters who sat and ate with her students.

Tapia said teachers generally like to wrap up paperwork and let students unwind the last day or two. That’s why she likes the annual end-of-year picnic. She admitted, however, “My kids cry for me. I see them as my grandchildren.” But then Tapia added, “The highlight, for me, is to see that they are progressing and moving up to another grade.”