Alvarado Middle School to be Renamed After Filipino-American Leaders

The school will become the first in the nation named after Filipino-Americans.


After months of heated discussions and rallies, the New Haven Board of Education approved a motion Tuesday night to rename Alvarado Middle School after Filipino-American leaders.

Board members voted 3-2 in favor of changing the school’s name to Iltliong-Veracruz Middle School after Filipino American labor leaders Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz, making it the first school in the country to name a school after Filipino Americans.

However, the approved motion, made by board member Michelle Matthews, calls for the name to take effect no sooner than the fall of 2015 and only after an implementation plan is created and funds are entirely secured.

Supporting community organizations have pledged to cover the administrative costs of changing the school’s name, which Superintendent Kari McVeigh estimated Tuesday night at more than $15,000. Additional costs, such as uniforms, would bring the cost up to $26,000, but officials said AMS-branded uniforms and teaching materials would still be used until their current supplies run out.

Tuesday night’s decision did not come easy.

Board members clashed after hearing speakers voice many of the same concerns that have been brought up before — money, unity, divisions, maintaining history, creating history.

Even Anthony Chavez, grandson of Cesar Chavez, attended the meeting to speak to the role Itliong and Vera Cruz played in his grandfather’s legacy and workers’ rights. Itliong and Vera Cruz helped organize the 1965 Delano Grape Strike, which led to the United Farm Workers movement.

Chavez said his grandfather’s work would not have been whole without the help of Itliong and Vera Cruz and that renaming the school would “bring about a great unity.”

While “unity” has been a slogan on both sides of the discussion, Tuesday night’s buzzword was “process.”

The process

The board was railed by several community members, including AMS teachers, upset over the lack of public discourse regarding the name change — and a majority of the board members fessed up to their faults.

According to a district board policy, an existing school can be renamed “only under extraordinary circumstances and after thorough study.”

“I feel compelled to apologize tot his community for the lack of leadership and direction from this board,” Matthews said. “At what point are we going to act as a body and take responsibility for the lack of process?”

Board member Michael Ritchie also took responsibility for the lack in leadership and tried to rectify it with a motion to keep the AMS name, which was seconded by board member Sarabjit Cheema but ultimately failed.

“I strongly believe that Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz are deserving of an honor such as the naming of an institution, possibly a school, but we have really, really not done a good job on the process,” Ritchie admitted.

“We, this board, made a decision without having any site discussion about this,” he added, referring to a Jan. 15 vote to change the school’s name. “We have not had an extraordinary circumstance nor a thorough study.”

Ritchie also warned that the decision to rename the school could create “a dangerous precedent” allowing other schools to be renamed.

But board president Linda Canlas, a rabidly ardent supporter of the name change, was not so concerned.

“Tonight our job is to take action one way or the other; it’s not to discuss process. If that was a problem we will discuss that as a board, but this process did not happen recently,” Canlas said.

According to Canlas, the Itliong-Vera Cruz name has been considered since the renaming of New Haven Middle School to Cesar Chavez Middle School 13 years ago. The name has been passed up four times in the past, she said.

“It is very important that we start opening our eyes and allow the people that are part of American history to be part of this district,” Canlas said.

The decision

Despite all the talk about the process, the board shot down Ritchie’s motion to keep the AMS name and seek another facility to name after Itliong and Vera Cruz.

Matthews offered her motion: rename the school but wait until 2015 to do so. It was seconded by Canlas and passed with a 3-2 vote, with Matthews, Canlas and Jonas Dino in favor and Ritchie and Cheema against it.

“My intention was always to recognize leaders regardless of ethnicity,” Matthews told Patch.

She said the motion was meant to be a compromise to ease tensions between the supporting and opposing community groups.

“I don’t believe either side intended to create division,” Matthews said.

The fallout

Emotions were mixed once the decision was announced.

On one end was a victorious celebration. On the other, outrage.

“It was unfair,” said AMS parent and alumnus Veronica Parra. “They denied the public’s input. They’re taking away our history, they’re taking away our pride.”

“That’s not how you earn recognition,” added Ruben Parra. “They’re taking away a lot of sentimental history.”

Those against the name change said they would seek action and challenge the legality of the board’s decision.

“Nobody really won here tonight,” said Lance Nishihira, a member of the AMS School Site Council. “Even though there may be a lot of smiles on people’s faces, I don’t think they truly understand the negative undercurrents and divisions it’s going to create.”

Meanwhile, supporters of the name change, which includes the New Haven Pilipino American Society for Education, Filipino Advocates for Justice and Kaisahan, held an impromptu rally inside of the district office.

“I’m just in utter awe that we made national history,” said Tracie Noriega, principal of Alvarado Elementary School and a PAHSE member.

She especially commended the youth in leading the charge.

“You really were able to show our board members why this has to happen,” she told the group.

But the small celebration wasn’t just a victory lap as leaders began discussing strategy and the next steps to take.

Ivan Santos, a Filipino Heritage Studies teacher at Logan, said community building is their no. 1 priority.

“We need to keep this community a community,” Santos said. “We need to build it and make it stronger.”

How do you feel about the name change? Tell us in the comments section below.

510 April 20, 2013 at 12:24 PM
Jean, I'm with u regarding the name change and how the school district needs lots of improvements. But u see how when u insult someone's race it even turns people on the same side against each other. Excuse me but when u say "Filipinos have no respect nor class" that's saying something bad about someone race sweetie.... Do u think anyone who is Filipino will feel good about what u jus said? Most of things u said I agree with. But when u start to judge someone ur true colors start show... Julius, u sure? If u lived here so long how do u not know there's an Alvarado district?? Where were u at in union city if u didn't know that? And like I said most people I know that grew up in union city are proud of it. If not its probably because most of ur time here u were getting chased around or beat up. So u might of grew up here but like I said earlier u were probably a geek or wierd. I guess it's not ur city when ur childhood was spent getting bullied and beat up. Those memories of u growing up in union city must be blacked out in ur head... That's y u have no sentiment or pride in the city u supposedly grew up in....Like I said earlier, we're glad u moved out too, jus like u said u were... I'm sure u were a noodle ur whole time u were here.... I've dealt with ur kind before... I kno.
510 April 20, 2013 at 12:40 PM
Oh yeah I don't work with the police. They shoot people in the back out here.... That's more for cowards like u.
Pete April 20, 2013 at 02:51 PM
If I've learned anything from this debate, it's this. It seems our fair city seems to have a lot of ignorant, racist and uneducated folk; on both sides of the issue. Really sad.
Edward April 20, 2013 at 06:03 PM
What about the children? Itliong-Vera Cruze Middle school, on a Reume, will sound like they were indoctrinated by a "labor Organizing School". They won't be able to put that on a resume if they plan on working at WalMart or other anti-Union company. In fact, this school District is anti-Union it'self. They gave "Pink slips" to teachers every time they have a Measure on the ballot. We lost our award winning Music program teachers over this, last year, when they went to other School Districts. And what about the 29.2 Million grant? will they hire non-union contractors again to do the work? The School District won't even sighn a "Project Labor Agreement " with the Alameda County Centeral labor Counsel" to get consesions so they will only take bids from Union Contractors, like Olone College has done for their new building program. "Honoring Labor" should be the issue, not the ethnic background of these Labor leaders. Many of the posters, on this site just don't want the name changed..period. It is not the name that was chosen. If they were building a NEW High School, with Union Labor, on the west side of the city where one is needed, then that name would be GREAT. It is just because they are renaming an existing School that has everybody angery. Including those who know this is not about the "Rights of Workers to organize" that Larry Itliong and Phillip Vera Cruse fought for.
Jean April 20, 2013 at 10:19 PM
510.....I am referring to the Filipino people who came and showed up waving flags with fists in the air.......really!!!! That was uncalled for they presented themselves as being disrespectful with no class!! I am not being hateful towards there race I am just calling it as I see it!! If any race shows up in a meeting to change a schools name and came in waving there flags and with fist up in the air...........what kind of statement are they making for themselves. Yes be proud of who you are but what does that have to do with anything. They looked like they were there for power and to prove something. Where I come from its called disrespect and I am not sorry for that!! But one thing im not is a racist......
510 April 20, 2013 at 11:13 PM
I don't think ur a racist.... But that's my people and they are not being racist either. They are showing pride In who they are and they're excited that there's a movement to reconise their hero's in history. Is it disrespectful when Latin's have brown pride.... I don't take it that way. U say its about a name change.... True but to them it's a name change that will represent pride for our people's. so yeah they gonna have thier flags and show of unity. Don't be scared of something you haven't seen before from the Filipino community. It's not about power or trying to disrespect its really about LOVE for our history and people. If that scares u I'm sorry. They are excited and maybe they did go a little over board... But I'm sure they were not trying to be disrespectful or try to make it a show of power. Don't get it twisted... That's how it becomes a racial thing... Like I said I'm with u regarding the name change and how most of us were blindsided by the change. If the community of Alvarado had a heads up that there was gonna be change I'm sure this outcome would be different. They didn't get a choice to voice thier opinions until it was too late. If you really want to get these guys reconised I hope u guys try as hard to get them put in our history books and our kidds learn about these me in their state history classes. But not changing the name of AMS.
Edward April 21, 2013 at 04:39 AM
Lets see if in 2015, after they have blown thriough the 29.2 million dollars if they still have enough to make the name change happen, or will they be voted out and the new board says"keep your money, it will be AMS Forever".
Edward April 21, 2013 at 04:54 AM
You are correct 510. Philip Vera Cruz and Larry Itliong we both Americans fighting for Workers Rights and social justice. They would have been there with American Flags and VFW flags to show unity among all its members from every nationality. This was a pure "Nationalistic", racial Power thing and not about the real issues the Larry Itliong or Philip Veras Cruz faught so long and so hard for. Now their names are being drug through the dirt by throwing out a legitimate name, on a school that so many have graduated from, and slapping it on the school like a decal on a school binder. What honor is that? They wanted workers to have Real Solidarity, not Divisions like this has caused. If this had been on a new HIGH school, that REAL transcrips would come from, and not a re-name of an existing middle school, it would have done them an honor. It would have also been better if the School District, that was Naming the School after them, had a better "Labor Friendly" attitude.
Jean April 21, 2013 at 05:02 AM
510......What you are not understanding is there are a lot of people who have been born & raised in Alvarado. Generations of families who attended Alvarado Middle and who take pride in the name. How do you feel proud by stripping away a name that many took pride in themselves. Build another building and take pride in naming it after a Filipino that you honor and feel proud!! I am not scared of a Filipino community........whats right is right and whats wrong is wrong!! Taking away something that you grew up with and took pride in is now gone to honor someone else so a different race can take pride in.....wth!!!! More power to the Filipino community but work for it!!! I have exhausted myself trying to make you see where the problem is. What's done is done now the name will be changed and Congratulation's the Filipinos can now feel proud of the new name!!! Lets see how you feel after being proud for 30 years of the name of the school that your children and grandchildren went to than one day they want to rename it after a Russian or whoever they want just to honor and take pride in!! Maybe then you will see the light!!!
Edward April 21, 2013 at 05:23 AM
Here is the DEAL. Tear down Alvarado Elementary School and Alvarado Middle School and Build a NEW Modern, state of the art High School on the combined locations and use some of the Bus Storage if needed. Name it "Itlion/Vera Cruz High School". Where real transcrips and real college bound graduates would eminate from. Move Alvarado Elementary to the Cabellio Site the School District was going to sell and keep calling "Alvarado Elementary". Then move the Middle School to the Delane Easton site and call it Juan Bautista Alavado Middle School" so no one will ever say again it was named Avarado because it was next to Alvarado Elementary School. We need the High School on the WEST SIDE, it would also relieve the congestion, mornings and evcenings, going to Logan from the "WEST SIDE", to Over crowded James Jogan High School. it would Allow Logan sports to again compeat with the local schools because it would be smaller. Everybody wins and the School District could get a bond issue passed to allow it to happen by 2016. James Logan has gotten to large and the student Body would welcome the smaller sizes of The Two High Schools in the District instead of one Supper Crowded School with 6 houses and 6 principals. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juan_Bautista_Alvarado
Cheryl April 21, 2013 at 07:12 AM
We'll definitely see in 2015. I still contend that Union City residents don't know or don't give a flying Fig Newton about the issue. Since it's a name change and not the razing of the school, the outcome will neither be the best news ever nor the most devastating.
Jean April 21, 2013 at 07:54 AM
I agree they sure need another High School and they can name that one anything they like!! I am the 3rd generation here in Decoto and the City has torn down everything we grew up with. All we have are memories but they cant take that away!! The closed down Decoto Elementary when they built all the new homes on 7th street. They wanted to build a new school for the new homeowners they did not care about the kids in the Decoto district. They closed the only Junior HIgh Banard White due to a drop in enrollment.......really lol!!! The City has done the district of Decoto's homeowners so dirty its a shame!! Who suffers from it all.........the kids!!! It's sad!!!!!
Green Is Better April 23, 2013 at 10:16 PM
I don't think there is any more point in responding to Jayden. This person has a ego-centric viewpoint, devoid of consistency as well as sensitivity to others. Jayden's reference to "whites" and "rich" as being oppressive people is what our society does not need - more fracturing.
Bottom Line Statement May 03, 2013 at 02:40 AM
Pointless.... Waste of time and money to make the changes....leave name as is....BLOWHARDS ALL OF YOU THAT WANT THE CHANGE... money better spent somewhere else...grandson of Chavez is just a parasite if he took money just to speak...
Edward May 03, 2013 at 02:57 AM
The new Comers want to "Upset the Apple Cart" instead of creating their own History. Central Valley Labor leaders were about Jobs and Good Pay, not stabbing the working Class locals in the Back by yanking history out from under the people who Built California from the time of the Spanish Missions. Instead of renaming a school or putting Grafitti on Buildings, why are they not both asking for a new High School they Realy Need, and have needed for the past 12 years instead? A new High School could Proudly raise up the names of those Labor leaders instead of dragging them through the "Dirt of a Turf War". No one will ever see the "Certificate of Compleation" from the middle School, But a High School will have real "Diplomas of Graduation". "
Angel R. May 03, 2013 at 05:20 AM
Just stay out of Decoto.
E.L.S May 06, 2013 at 06:45 AM
http://asmdc.org/members/a18/other-resources/ab-123 Something to keep in mind
Edward May 08, 2013 at 02:08 AM
This happens when they teach from the California State Text Books and not from local History.
Edward May 11, 2013 at 06:26 AM
When Ponderosa homes buys Cabello, Where will the $14.7 million go? And how about the $29.1 Million in Grants they just got? $43.8 million... All that money in the hands of just 3 Votes on the New Haven Unified School Board. Scarry! Bet they won't bring back "Free School Busses." or build the needed high School on the West Side of Union City".
Ian Perry May 14, 2013 at 06:33 AM
What are we now a Communist state. the 3 people should have voted it down. I now that sounds wrong it's the truth. I have to Give my money to the jerry brown and to Obama and now to Union city. for this name change. Did these people ever live in Union city no. Did they do some thing good in the county no. LIFE is not fair. It should be AMS nothing else.
Edward May 14, 2013 at 06:17 PM
Right now, the park next to Cabelio School, has a generic name called" Vertrans Park". Why not rename it to Itlion-Chavez-VeraCruse Park and have a statue of all Three holding picket signs that sat "Honor Labor" in 3 different languages. Itliong's in Tagolog, Chavez's in Spanish and Veracruze's in English. The new developer, of the SOLD Cabelio School, must pay $10,000.00 into the Union City park fund for each unit built. 46 units is $460,000.00 towards the monument and improvments to the park, unless Union City takes it away to other parks. Better be there at the "Planing Commision" meetings to get what you want. We have a "Flight 93" memorial, why not a "Labor" Memorial?
Edward May 14, 2013 at 07:14 PM
And here is why.... May 14, 2013. After following thew Elderly White man and woman home from the store, Police said, the first suspect pushed both homewoners down to the floor and "forcefully removed the elderly female's jewelry." The second suspect found a young adult male locked in a bedroom, struck him in the head with the gun, ransacked the bedroom and took more property, police said. Both suspects fled on foot to a waiting vehicle, described as a newer model silver Audi sedan or BMW with chrome rims and tinted black windows. The vehicle was last seen being driven past Kitiyama Elementary School onto Medallion Drive, according to a Union City Police press release. When you shop in Union City, you may be followed home and robbed. Especially if you are Elderly and White.
Debra Brune August May 22, 2013 at 11:38 PM
As a child of a family of 6 generations of Alvarado I do not understand the continual need to rename our landmarks. There are parts of our past, our heritage, and our memories. Union City has nothing to do with all of these political icons, it has to do with 2 small communities, Alvarado and Decoto becoming one and the history and families behind both. Itlion/Vera Cruz, Cesar Chavez, MLK were not part of these communities. They were advocates for the people of these communities, but they did not live, work, worship or even die here. If the city wants to honor them, then lets find a way that doesn't take away from the past but only adds to the future. I remember before AMS was built it was nothing but cauliflower fields and the old Harvey house in the distance where the Thrifty store would eventually be built. I was one of the first students to attend AMS, like my mother was one of the first to attend JLHS. Union City has grown so much over the last 40 years, can't we find a better way to honor those that we honor because they made a difference for us without destroying the past memory of the families, people and places that actually raised all of us through the growth and hard times? They way it takes a village to raise a child, but they don't keep renaming the village. Kitiyama Elementary is a perfect example of honoring a member of the cities history, but all of the others were not part of the village.
Mariah Turner June 24, 2013 at 06:57 PM
This is an outrage. Children in the district barely learn about the history of the schools they attend and why they got named after certain people. I have been in the district since kindegarden at Kitayama Elementary and the only school where you are actually taught about the naming of the school is Cesar Chavez and thats only because of the work that he did. Remaning AMS isnt going to educate students any further; current students dont know all of the work that Alvarado did as the governer of California and what he did in our area specifically. Its sad the the board is willing to bend for the minority opinion that makes a big noise wjen the only reason they want the name change is because of the race of the individuals it will be named after. Union City doesnt have anything named after an African American person or a Native American one or even a Chinese one; its simple ridiculous to advocate that the community needs to push for the recognition of filipinos when other groups are also unrecognized.
Edward June 28, 2013 at 09:27 PM
Another Graduate makes his mark... While the victim was eating, the suspect sat down at a nearby table and ordered food. He got up within 10 minutes and paid for his food. As the suspect was leaving, he grabbed the woman’s brown leather backpack that was placed in a chair next to her. The victim tried to grab her bag, but the suspect knocked her to the floor and fled on foot to a black BMW that was parked on the west side of the nearby Los Dos Amigos Bar. Police said the bag contained all of the woman’s life possessions and $20,000 in cash. The backpack was later found near the Alameda Creek in Niles. The cash was missing, police said. The suspect was described as a Filipino male adult between 18 and 30 years old with a thin build and medium height. He was wearing a brown and tan baseball style hat with a white t-shirt, tight capri-style jeans that were rolled up at the botton and flip flops with white socks. He may have been wearing glasses and was seen smoking a cigarette. He was seen driving a late model black four-door BMW with chrome rims. Our Pinoy hero!
Frank Teller November 18, 2013 at 04:17 PM
too hard to pronounce, keep it alvarado
Mr Me March 31, 2014 at 07:12 PM
I dont recall an out rage when New Haven was renamed....
Mr Me March 31, 2014 at 07:16 PM
Mr Me March 31, 2014 at 07:21 PM
Was there outrage when Alvarado park was renamed to Cesar Chavez Park?
Mr Me March 31, 2014 at 07:23 PM
Parks and Schools were renamed in Union City to honor Cesar Chavez but he didnt do it alone...he wasnt even the first to start organizing.


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