By DAVID LOPEZ
Last Friday evening, under cloudy skies and a calm atmosphere, honks broke out through a San Benito neighborhood. Then appeared a McDonald’s Play Van followed by a parade of decorated vehicles. The pleasant surprise was intended for former fifth-grade Sullivan Elementary student Maria Anali Franciso.
The vehicles paraded around the neighborhood once before parking at Francisco’s house, where the McDonald’s Play Van set up arcade games and fun props, and staff emerged from their vehicles to congratulate Francisco.
According to Sullivan Elementary Response to Intervention teacher Edina Cortez, Sullivan staff recognized Francisco for her perfect attendance and A Honor Roll from grades first to fifth.
“She is the only person in the lower valley who has been awarded this prize this year,” said Cortez.
Before the pandemic, the McDonald’s Play Van, in association with Pharr-based company Laugh and Giggles, would arrive at a school and set up in its gymnasium, providing activities like arcade games, balloon twisting, face painting, and LEGOs.
This time, however, they delivered the fun straight to the student’s house, where employees of Laugh and Giggles set up video arcade games for the student, including Ninja Turtles, Asteroid, Space Invaders, and Galaga.
The NEWS asked Maria Francisco her secret to being an exceptional student.
“I just want to go to school,” she said. “It’s super fun, and I’m really happy.”
Editor’s note: This article has been edited for length. To read the full story, click here or make sure to grab a copy of the June 5-11, 2020 issue of the NEWS.