In 2018, Zelene Blancas' lovely viral video of her first-graders greeting one another with a series of hugs, handshakes, fist bumps and high fives was seen around the world.
December 28, 2020

Two years ago, Zelene Blancas' lovely viral video of her first-graders greetings of one another with a series of hugs, handshakes, fist bumps and high fives was seen around the country.

In October, she was diagnosed with contracting COVID-19 and had spent the last seven weeks in the ICU. She died Monday. She was just 35 years of age.

A GoFundMe page has been set up by her family to pay her considerable medical bills because that's how it is in the United States.

As her family, we want to ensure she continues to receive the best medical treatment available. Because her hospitalization has extended this long, she has exhausted all her available paid time off and will soon be without an income and will have to pay the full cost of her health insurance out of pocket. Zelene has a long recovery ahead of her, one which also presents a grave financial burden.

Here is the story of her viral video, from 2018.

Source: El Paso Times

First-graders Antonella Nuñez, Axel Tena and Dante Porras took a minute from their free playtime Tuesday to demonstrate a series of hugs, handshakes, fist bumps and high fives.

Antonella, a student at Dr. Sue Shook Elementary in far East El Paso, explained that the series of greetings is the last thing she does in her classroom before going home for the day.

"It’s new and it’s so cute," Antonella said. "It makes me feel happy and excited."

The first-graders were demonstrating something their teacher, Zelene Blancas, filmed and uploaded to Twitter on a whim Nov. 30. By Tuesday afternoon, the minute-long clip had garnered over 13.6 million views and 25,000 retweets, with a flood of supportive comments and emojis.

Blancas' video highlights an example of social-emotional learning, or initiatives and lessons that teach kids how to cope with emotions and conflict while also helping them develop interpersonal skills.

"I want them to go home feeling like I’ll be waiting for them here the next day, or for them to feel like they’ll have a safe place to come back to and learn in a safe environment," Blancas said.

A news report from KTSM at the time.

Appropriately, her Twitter icon was giving a big hug.


Can you help us out?

For 18 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.