LAREDO — Students at Senator Judith Zaffirini Elementary School (ZES) started the school year today (Monday) with a visit from their namesake. Continuing a tradition she started when the school was founded in 1999, Senator Judith Zaffirini welcomed students at the entrance and presented each a pencil imprinted with her name and the seal of the Texas Senate.

She arrived at 6:30 a.m. and stood by the front door until the last child arrived two hours later.

“I love meeting the students on their first day of classes,” Senator Zaffirini said. “It’s an opportunity to reassure them, wish them well and offer to be of assistance. Because ZES offers classes from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, many are accompanied by their parents. Being there also affords me an opportunity to assure them that their children are in good hands.”

Among the senator’s memorabilia exhibited near the entrance is a black velvet hat with a metallic gold tassel. “It’s part of my doctoral regalia,” she explained. “I gave it to the students in 1999 to symbolize my challenge that they stay in school, go to college and earn a post-graduate degree.”

The senator also has challenged ZES students to strive for perfect attendance and to stay away from gangs, drugs, alcohol and tobacco.

She presented the ZES library with a copy of the centennial edition of “The Annotated Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum.

“It’s always my pleasure to add to the library’s collection,” she said. “I especially enjoy interacting with the children, whether to chat or to motivate them or to read to them.”

When he was 12, her son, Carlos Jr., gave the Zaffirini library his collection of more than 500 age-appropriate books.

Last year she presented each student with a copy of her motivational children’s book, “If Judy Pappas Can Do It, Anybody Can!” Published by Laredo National Bank/BBVA Group, the gift edition won first place statewide and second place nationally in a communications contest sponsored by the Press Women of Texas.

The senator said she plans to visit ZES throughout the year and will attend their Christmas program.


AUSTIN — “After hearing testimony from experts and representatives from the Governor’s Office, community college districts, and local businesses and industries, I am optimistic that we will restore funding for group health insurance to community colleges and avoid unwanted tax hikes, tuition increases or reduced services.

“With the leadership of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and our Senate colleagues, we will find a solution that is fair, equitable and responsive to the many concerns raised today. The hearing provided community college leaders an opportunity to communicate how the veto will impact their districts and to recommend solutions to the members of the subcommittee. I know that their voices were heard not only by legislators, but also by the governor’s staff, who presented their own proposal for remedying the situation.

“Though details regarding how to restore the funding still need to be negotiated, strong consensus emerged from the testimony we heard regarding the importance of providing a short-term solution to the problem caused by the veto while striving toward resolving long-term funding issues.”