Framed portraits of the namesakes for Denton’s Gonzalez School for Young Children and Rivera Elementary School were recently donated to the school district.
The photographs, which are each estimated to be about 50-by-25 inches with inscriptions, were a gift from the Denton chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens. The council presented the gift at a March 19 school board meeting.
“We had noticed that there was not a picture at either of those schools, so we thought it would be nice to donate those so that they would be hung at the entrance,” said Anita Martinez-Strickland, the local council’s president.
District spokeswoman Sharon Cox said the portrait of Denton couple Emilio “Popo” and Lupe Gonzalez has been delivered to the early childhood campus on Long Road that bears their names.
In the portrait, the couple stand outside the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, where Popo is a deacon and Lupe is a member of the church staff. An inscription accompanies the framed portrait that reads: “Popo and Lupe Gonzalez, Denton Community Leaders and Humanitarians, Presented by the Denton League of United Latin American Citizens Council #4366, March 19, 2013.”
The Gonzalezes, who were present for the presentation, received a standing ovation from those in attendance.
Popo and Lupe Gonzalez have been married for more than 50 years, and for nearly 50 years they’ve lived in Denton. The couple have served as volunteers, translators, community activists, hairdressers to local residents, and they’ve prayed with and shared their faith with others. In 2011, the couple received the Benemerenti medal from Pope Benedict XVI for their years of exceptional service to the Catholic Church.
“They are such a great gift and positive role models,” Strickland said at the recent board meeting. “We are blessed to have them in our great city because of their leadership and love for people.”
Cox said the framed photograph of Tomás Rivera, Texas educator, scholar, author and poet who died in 1984, is expected to be delivered to Rivera Elementary on Newton Street in the coming days.
According to Strickland, the council had an electronic photo it received from Rivera’s family blown up and framed for Rivera Elementary. The inscription on the Rivera portrait reads: “Dr. Tomás Rivera, December 22, 1935 — May 16, 1984, Educator, Scholar, Author, Presented by the Denton League of United Latin American Citizens Council #4366, March 19, 2013.”
The Denton LULAC Council No. 4366 also intends to launch an essay writing contest next school year as a tribute to Rivera, Strickland said. Guidelines for the competition are still being developed.
Rivera Elementary Principal Roshaunda Thomas said she’s honored to receive “such a wonderful gift to display.” She said it’s still being determined where the portrait will be placed, but she’s pleased that the photo will be in place where students can see it every day.
“I just look [to] it as a symbol of what you can become with hard work,” Thomas said. “[Rivera] was a great educator, advocate in his community and a great role model to look up to for all.”
BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876 and via Twitter at @BritneyTabor.