Posted Date: 05/16/2023
Weekend rain threatened to halt the 30th UISD Special Education “Community First” Fishing Derby at “El Ranchito” next to Lake Casa Blanca Park. But it turned out to be a great event after all when the overnight rain and thunder disappeared by morning. 120 students registered for the event, and 380 family members joined them for a day of fun, food, fishing and family.
Frank Gutierrez, Special Education Coordinator of the event, said all students of the Self Contained Unit, ages 3-21, are invited to the yearly event. This year some former students were also included. The community fishing adventure has taken place for 30 years, 29 consecutively, but it stopped for six years, partly due to the Pandemic. But now it's back, and UISD is celebrating the event’s 30th anniversary.
The event took place Saturday, May 13th from 8:00 am - 2:00 pm. Students got free breakfast and lunch for the entire family which featured every child’s delight of pizza, hotdogs, chips, and sodas. LISD and surrounding districts (Zapata, Jim Hogg, Webb Consolidated) are also invited yearly to join in the fun. All the students get to experience fishing, and catching two or more fish is allowed. Gutierrez explains how a half-circle net is set up inside, on the edge of the lake, and 600 catfish are placed in this area the night before the event under the supervision of Texas Parks and Wildlife.
“When the students catch fish, they can keep up to two fish they catch or release them back into the lake. At least 20 different entities from Laredo support this project in order to provide students with this memorable experience,” adds Gutierrez.
UISD sponsors the event thanks to the many special employees who help to set it up, such as the UISD Support Services Department under Mauro Juarez; they set up more than 34 tables and 170 chairs. The district’s Facilities Department set up 17 tents under the direction of Rogelio Torres. The district’s Health Department provides two nurses under the direction of Irene Rosales, Director of Health Services. The UISD Police Department provides two Units under Police Chief Aaron Salazar. The Special Education Department provides 40 student volunteers to assist with other important duties such as distribution of food items and providing ice chests. The Special Education Department coordinators and staff all work together to make sure it’s a great experience for the students and their families.
“The students get very excited about doing something fun and interactive. We provide them a fish weigh-in station and trophies are given out to those who bring in the heaviest catch. The event takes a lot of coordination internally at the district with organizations from the community that also participate, but all the smiles are worth the effort,” adds the coordinator.
UISD Superintendent David H. Gonzalez says the event means a lot to the employees and the students, “Our district is a proud sponsor of this community event, and we will continue to make it bigger and better every year. It’s important to provide opportunities for our students to experience nature and community with family and friends. This kind of learning will provide them with years of joy, satisfaction and memories.”