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Unmasked

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By Don Pace

Handmade masks by Paul D. Henry Elementary students hang on the walls outside Patricia Mendoza’s classroom after being displayed at the New Mexico State Fair. Ribbons from contest sponsor KRQE television station are alongside each mask.

“Last year, my third-graders prepared papier-mache masks as part of a special project. They worked with local artist Faith Gelvin on the history of masks in world cultures, as part of their bilingual education and social studies lessons,” Mendoza said.

The students used aluminum foil to make molds of their faces and traditional papier-mache to make the final masks. A number of students decorate the inside of their masks to show what was inside them at the time.

“I was thinking about a Native American. My grandma is Native American,” Jonathan Trujillo wrote.

In his description, Arjay Ortiz said, “It is a mask of Cinco de Mayo. I made it glittery for my sister’s birthday. It is on May 5. Inside, I am clueless and crazy.”

And Leigha Lynch wrote, “My mask represents Earth. It has many things like feathers, flowers, leaves and much more. It is painted so many colors like the things on Earth. It has three strings. That makes it the third planet in the solar system. It has sparkles. That means Earth and everyone on it shines. It has little polka-dot papers. That means to recycle. Last, it has black thread that represents the people who got married and died.”