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Cardozo Students Plan Masquerade Ball
A masquerade, described in the dictionary as a ball or party in which masks and fancy costumes are worn, is in preparation at Cardozo Middle School.

Billed for Friday, Dec. 16 in the school's cafeteria, it probably won't quite resemble a stage scene from The Phantom of the Opera or a movie representation of King Louis XV's court. But the plan is generating considerable excitement among the students of the after school program.

In the arts and crafts enrichment class, they've been making colorful masks of the medieval type that coy courtiers held in front of their faces to conceal their identity.

They've been directing their cooking class to making pastries, sweetmeats and snacks for the ball with ingredients like marshmallow, butter, rice crispies and chocolate candies.

They're even learning to dance and waltz around the room in the old-fashioned ballroom style.

"Kind of cute," a school employee remarked after studying the lines of boys and girls attempting these strange moves where you're supposed to move in time with a partner instead of gyrate and gesticulate in self-centered independence.

There were twice as many girls as boys for the dance lessons, but those attending should be able to put the lessons to good use on Friday for the festivities.

Andres Gonzalez was teaching the class and drew applause for smoothly guiding student Andrea Delgado around the floor.

The daily after school program at Cardozo generally starts with a snack, then proceeds to opening activities "to get the kids hyped up, something like a tug of war, a student blindfolded and lost in a maze, or something like that," said advisor Mayra Bravo.

The hour from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. is devoted to homework and that is a quiet, serious activity with papers and books.

With the tables cleared away, 4 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. is the time for physical education. Instructors seized the opportunity this past week to make that time for dancing lessons for everyone in preparation for the ball.

Finally from 4:30 p.m. until their parents arrive to pick them up, students turn to enrichment programs. In this case, that meant continuing the dance instruction for those who wished and sending a smaller group to another area to practice cooking.

Instructor Michelle Adame started the cooking class with some safety instructions to avoid getting cut or burned, simple things like holding a knife with the point down when moving and positioning the handle on a cooking pot to one side so you don't accidentally hit it and risk spilling scalding water.

She also stressed cleanliness - a large proportion of food poisoning is caused by dirty hands, she said - and took her students into the kitchen to wash their hands and don plastic gloves before firing up the electric table pans and ladling out ingredients.

At least two of the boys, James Stonier and Angel Navarro, were enthusiastic about cooking.

"I've been cooking for my family, evening meals included, since I was seven and I'm 12 now. I really want to go on to chef's school," said Stonier.

Navarro said he regularly cooks breakfast for himself when his mother has to leave early for work. He too is interested in attending a cooking school.