John Rieping/The Madera Tribune
Students walk across a newly opened soccer field to join their class before a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Ezequiel Tafoya Alvarado Academy on Monday.
About 600 students at Ezequiel Tafoya Alvarado Academy started the first day of school lined up on formerly forbidden grass Monday at a newly opened Bobby Gutierrez Soccer Field.
“The kids are happy to have a playground,” said cafeteria clerk Ivonne Martinez. “They weren’t allowed on that field last year because of all the construction. They’re very very excited.”
The field takes its name from a late academy supporter and former soccer coach at both Madera high school campuses. His family attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony that launched the academy’s new school year.
Gutierrez led the 1998 Madera High School soccer team that won the Valley Championship, and was a past president of Madera Youth Soccer League. Before retiring, he worked at Baltimore Air Coil for 20 years and served in the National Guard for 13 years. He also owned L&B Graphics and L&B Fabrication. He died on April 17, 2009.
The state awarded the charter school a $1.5 million facilities grant last year, according academy executive director Nicholas Retana, “so now we can do improvements.”
The fully accredited academy, which began in 2005 with only 167 students, teaches kindergarten through 8th grade students just northeast of the city of Madera.
For information, visit www.etaacharter.com.