Alumni from La Habra’s once segregated school reunite to reconnect at fundraiser
By Jazmine Paniagua
La Habra Journal
A large gathering of people moved around a meeting room of the La Habra Community Center last week. They gathered as part of a reunion of classmates who attended Wilson Grammar School in La Habra when it was segregated.
The event was a fundraising dinner to recognize the reunion of the Wilson School students and raise money to help support the non-profit Rosie’s Garage
The Wilson School, which opened in 1920, was affectionately known as “La Esquelitia.” because the student body was comprised solely of children from the migrant farm workers. The school was eventually closed down and the student body was desegregated. The buildings no longer stand, but the history of the school remains.
La Habra councilwoman Rose Espinosa coordinated the event as a way to help recognize this significant part of La Habra history. Espinosa is also the director and founder of Rosie’s Garage, a La Habra-based after-school tutoring program.
The guest’s of honor for the night were the very own former student’s of La Escuelita, who went through the unfortunate patch of segregation in schools throughout history.
Some of the honorees in attendance included: Amado Reynoso, Tony Gonzalez, Enrique Zuniga, Alvina Hernandez, Manuel Ramirez, Joe Garcia, Concepcion Sotelo, Joe Gonzalez, Ventura de la Torre, Rudy Castro, Magdaleno Agular, Louie Uribe, and Ruben Mercado, who all attended the segregated Mexican school, “La Escuelita”.
One notable alumnus who was unable to attend, but sent his well wishes was the Honorable Cruz Reynoso, former California Supreme Court Justice.
Concepcion Sotelo, known to most as “Conchita,” recalled how it was like attending school then.
“As kids, we didn’t know or understand what segregation was, and I must add the we were happy attending “La Escuelita” and playing there,” she explained.
Everyone at the dinner feasted on an array of Mexican foods, (rice, beans, chicken in red salsa, carnitas, and Mexican drinks).
Musicians played live music that shuffled between classic American and traditional Mexican oldies. The music provided by “Trio Tepeyac” moved around the room serenading the tables with traditional Mexican songs.
Espinosa explained what a great privilege it was to host this event and how the proceeds would go back to help the children in the community continue to pursue their education.
All in attendance were able to enjoy an evening to recognize La Habra’s history and reconnect with old friends and classmates while helping a charity to help future children.