The biennial reunion of the San Felipe Ex-Students Association begins today.
San Felipe Ex-Students President Alonzo Martinez said Tuesday he expects about 150 people will attend the reunion, which is held in Del Rio every two years and celebrates the spirit, culture, history, achievements and personalities of the former San Felipe Independent School District.
The reunion begins today with a morning mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church on West Garza Street.
“We’re starting the reunion by celebrating a mass because it’s a thing to be thankful for, not only that we are here and able to attend, but thankful for all that we’ve had, the blessings we’ve had, and that’s how we like to begin,” Martinez said.
Following mass, the ex-students, family members and guests will walk to the San Felipe Ex-Students Center for a continental breakfast and conversation.
“There’ll be a lot of talking. People get together, and they get happy because they haven’t seen each other for a long time. They’ll sit, get a cup of coffee and a breakfast taco and share some memories, and that’s really what the reunion is all about,” Martinez said.
He said reunion-goers are expected from across Del Rio and across the country.
“Most of the ones here (today) will be from Del Rio, but we have quite a few people from California that still travel. We have people that are coming in from Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and there are always a couple of families that come in from out east, Virginia and New England,” Martinez said.
The reunion brings together a variety of people with ties to the old San Felipe ISD.
“The way that the Exes Association began, in the 1960s in California, was the ex-students, people who had gone to and most who had graduated from San Felipe High School and who now lived in California, especially around the San Jose, Calif., area. They used to get together every so often, and they decided to put together an association,” Martinez said.
The ex-SFISD students would host a celebration every 10 years and honors someone from San Felipe High School, often a teacher, principal or coach.
“But the San Felipe Exes, actually, is anybody who lived in San Felipe, who went to school in San Felipe or who was a teacher there, because we had many teachers who were not from Del Rio, who moved here as adults and taught in San Felipe and stayed there all their careers. . . Teachers like Mrs. Oveda Pasley and Mrs. May Harris,” Martinez said.
The association also includes family members who didn’t necessarily attend San Felipe schools.
“These were the parents and the grandparents who actually built San Felipe, and when you go back to the history, and you see the barrio, the neighborhood, well, somebody started it. . . When you talk about a community effort, that’s exactly what it was. These people, like my grandfather and the other people that lived there, the stories that I used to hear when I was young, people were asking for either a dime or a cinder block so that they could build parts of the school or the stadium, and people donated their labor, too,” Martinez said.
The San Felipe Independent School District was established in 1929, and its first students graduated in 1932, he said.
At 1:30 p.m. today, Los Amigos del Cementerio Loma de la Cruz will gather at the cemetery grounds to re-dedicate the historic burial site. Martinez said the group hosting the re-dedication event in not the San Felipe Exes organization, but many San Felipe Exes are members of the cemetery group.
The ex-students will reconvene at 6:30 p.m. at the Del Rio Civic Center for a 7 p.m. talent and variety show, 7:30 p.m. dinner and music and dancing from 8 p.m. to midnight.
The reunion goes into full swing Friday at 10 a.m. with a parade that begins at San Felipe and Garza streets and continues along Garza Street to Brown Plaza. Former San Felipe educator Teresita “Terry” R. Barrera will serve as the parade marshal.
At 11:30 a.m. Friday, the United San Felipe group, which is made up of many San Felipe ex-students, will host a ceremony at the Barrio San Felipe Arch, located over Canal Street just northwest of the Brown Plaza. At this time, the arch will be dedicated and donated to the city of Del Rio.
On Saturday, the ex-students will get together for a golf tournament at the San Felipe Springs Golf Course. Martinez said 18 teams have signed up to participate, and all proceeds from the tournament go toward the San Felipe Exes’ scholarship program.
At 8 p.m. Saturday, the ex-students will gather at the civic center for a “gran baile,” a more formal dance event than the one held Thursday. The event will include the presentation of the ex-students association board of directors and the introduction and recognition of the SFHS 1968 mile relay track team, which included Coach Roberto “Bob” Chavira and team members Jimmy Rodriguez, David De Leon, Roberto Polanco and George Fay.
Martinez said the team won the regional tournament and set a new record, went to the state championships, where they placed second.
The reunion ends Sunday with a “despedida,” or farewell, ceremony at the San Felipe Exes Center.