PUSD celebrates past, present students

Parlier Unified School District highlights noteworthy students, presents award to Fresno resident for contribution to Mariachi program

Parlier Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Rafael Iniguez with Louis Mendoza, who was presented with the Parlier Unified Community Empowerment Award.
Parlier Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Rafael Iniguez with Louis Mendoza, who was presented with the Parlier Unified Community Empowerment Award.
Darren Fraser
Published March 15, 2024  • 
10:00 am

PARLIER – Recently, some noteworthy Parlier students of current and previous generations were acknowledged, including a fifth-grade scholar, a tech-savvy 11th grader, a generous alumni and a benevolent community member, exemplifying the profound impact individuals can have within their community.

At the March 12 Parlier Unified School District (PUSD) Board meeting, the board recognized current and past Parlier students and a community member for their merits – merits that remind people individuals can make a difference.

Alejandra Ignacio Reyes is a fifth grader at Matthew J. Brletic Elementary. A quiet girl, she reluctantly led the PUSD Board and the public in the Pledge of Allegiance at the meeting. PUSD Superintendent Dr. Rafael Iniguez selected Reyes for PUSD’s Superstar Award.

In the Superintendent’s Superstar Nomination form, Iniguez wrote of Reyes, “Alejandra exhibits exemplary behavior toward adults, treats her peers with respect and remains attentive during class. She was recently chosen to attend the Math Academy at UC Merced. The honor of being selected for the Math Academy is testament to her hard work and commitment to academic excellence.”

“Alejandra, I want you to be laser focused,” said PUSD Board President Martin Mares. “Read two or three books a month. Focus on your goals and what you want to accomplish. Enjoy the ride.”

The Board also recognized Fernando Chavez, an 11th grader at Parlier High School. Iniguez played a video Chavez created, in English and Spanish, promoting the new Ag Tech Program at Reedley College that begins in the fall. Chavez was not in attendance at the meeting.

“This student took the initiative to work with video production and create an English version and a Spanish version of the video which we share on our social media platforms,” said Iniguez.

The Board then presented Michael Sandoval, class of 1981, with the Parlier High School Hall of Fame Outstanding Alumni Award.

Sandoval served eight years as a U.S. Marine. In 2010, Sandoval joined iLoveToCreate, and oversees the company’s operations.

“You are our next alumni superstar,” said Iniguez. “It is always inspiring when alumni return to Parlier and give back.”

Sandoval, on behalf of iLoveToCreate, donated a shipment of art supplies to PUSD. The donation included 20 pallets of tie dye, soft paint, fabric paint, crafting glue, space paint and markers.

“Art education is now a big deal in our district, so, thank you, Mr. Sandoval,” said Iniguez.

Sandoval said the award was very unexpected; that he had no idea it was going to happen.

“I am very appreciative. I look forward to coming back to Parlier. There are a lot of opportunities (in Parlier) to help out,” he said. “Where I can, I will continue.”

Iniguez added, “You did this not for the recognition but out of the kindness of your heart.”

Lastly, in the most moving dedication of the evening, PUSD recognized Fresno resident, Louis Mendoza, 89, for his community service and presented him with the Parlier Unified Community Empowerment Award.

Mendoza saw a local television news segment on PUSD’s Mariachi classes. He donated two acoustic guitars, one valued at $3,000, to the program.

During his acceptance speech, Mendoz said, “Those two guitars are special. When I saw the program, I knew what I was going to do with them. There’s a lot I want to say at my age. I’ve contributed 50 years of my life to my community.”

In addition to being a guitar aficionado, Mendoza is an astronomer. He is a member of the Central Valley Astronomers. He donated a telescope he built to the Fresno Unified School District.

Darren Fraser
Reporter