‘Enjoying being a kid’
With a pair of rainbow checkered Vans sneakers on her feet, Junior Spirit of Fiesta Paloma Valenzuela walked onto Foothill Elementary campus the morning of Aug. 21. The 10-year-old starts fifth grade this week, and with the school supplies her mother bought for her and the salami sandwich her eldest sister made for her in her pink backpack, Paloma felt ready for the new school year.
Though “I was a little nervous,” she told the News-Press. “This year I’m in a fifth and sixth grade combo class. I’ve never been in a combo class.”
But she already seems to be making friends with the older kids in the classroom.
“All the upper kids are nice and friendly,” she said.
Paloma is the youngest daughter in her family, but she speaks with both the charm of a child and the composure of an adult. She seems to be taking notes from her older sisters.
“She has two older sisters (Savannah, 13, and Bella, 17) who have done a great job” teaching Paloma and correcting her if something could be better, said Paloma’s mother Chelsea Valenzuela. “She looks up to them.”
Mrs. Valenzuela works full-time as the store manager at Tiffany & Co. in La Cumbre Plaza, and she told the News-Press, “If they want mom to drop them off, everybody had to pitch in.”
And so, Paloma was up at 6:30 a.m. getting ready for school. While her eldest sister made her lunch, Paloma poured herself some Honey Nut Cheerios. Afterwards she got dressed.
“I wore my regular clothes,” laughed Paloma when asked if she wore her flamenco dress to school. “Pink shorts and a white shirt with pink on it.”
Paloma told the News-Press that she is looking forward to a special field trip that fifth graders at Foothill Elementary go on: to Catalina Island. But with all the excitement, a part of Paloma also wants to slow time down a bit.
“It’s like really exciting that I’m getting older so fast,” said Paloma, “but I’m also kind of sad. I am enjoying being a kid.”
Paloma is already making plans for when she is older though.
For instance, the fifth grader is eyeing veterinary school.
“I really like animals. Ever since I was little, I loved playing with animals,” said Paloma, but “cats, that’s the only thing I’m allergic to.”
She also has a bit of wanderlust.
“I’ve been wanting to go to China because I love pot stickers and I want to go and try all the potstickers,” Paloma gushed.
Like a dove that she is named for, Paloma seems ready to spread her wings and see the world, but for now, she is focused on fifth grade.