In June 1947, the largest class that had ever graduated from Madera High School received its diplomas before the largest audience that had ever assembled for the occasion. One hundred and eighty-one seniors marched across the stage while the guests filled the gymnasium and overflowed into the entrance hall.
One of those 1947 graduates was Alfonso Gonzalez, and in the audience were his proud parents who had left their Del Rio, Texas, home and brought him and his siblings to Madera.
No one could have imagined that night just how propitious the move to California had been. It meant new opportunities for the entire family, and for Alfonso it meant that 67 years later he would be part of another audience — one in which his son would be introduced as Madera Unified School District’s new school superintendent.
Even though he was only in the 4th grade, Alfonso, now 85 years old, remembers well his arrival in Madera in 1938. His parents, who earned their living in the fields, instilled in him a voracious appetite for learning, although their own years of formal education were few. They enrolled him in Pershing Elementary where Ruby Jones and Merle Jones saw to it that he got a good start in his new school...