CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Within the Corpus Christi Independent School District, there are five elementary schools named after Hispanic individuals who did great things for the Coastal Bend.
Garcia Elementary School was named after Jose Antonio Garcia.
He helped establish Del Mar College and secured the construction of Buccaneer Stadium.
Like his younger brother, Dr. Hector P. Garcia, he also fought discrimination against Mexican Americans.
“The whole Garcia family was advocates for civil rights, for helping those who have been disenfranchised, helping the poor, helping those who are in need and helping those get an education,” Garcia Elementary Principal Danny Noyola Jr. said.
Zavala Elementary School was named after Lorenzo de Zavala, who dedicated much of his life to fighting oppression and played a big role in the state's fight for independence from Mexico.
He helped write the new constitution for the Republic of Texas in 1821 and he served as the republic's first vice president.
“He was buried in San Jacinto when he passed, the state has also provided a monument next to his burial site you know, in recognition for everything that he did,” Zavala Assistant Principal Sylvia Burkes said.
Berlanga Elementary School was named after Mary Helen Berlanga.
The local attorney and community advocate is also a long-time member of the Texas State Board of Education.
“Mrs. Mary Helen Berlanga has often come and supported our events. She gives a Christmas gift to every single student on this campus,” Berlenga Principal Melissa Clearman said.
Mireles Elementary School was named after the late Edmundo Eduardo Mireles and his wife, Jovita Gonzalez de Mireles, both who were born in Mexico and then moved to the United States.
They were some of the first Hispanics to attend the University of Texas and both became educators in Corpus Christi.
Edmundo was considered the father of bilingual education. He created bilingual curriculum still used in schools today, and Jovita Mireles was a folklorist.
“Together they also wrote a number of books on how to teach Spanish which became essential textbooks in the state,” Mireles Principal Carolyn Bence said.
The fifth school named after a Hispanic leader is Galvan Elementary School, built in 1990 with an enrollment of around 500 students a year.
This school was named after Rafael Galvan, the City of Corpus Christi's first Mexican American police officer.
Some of the Galvan family members are also known as some of the founders of the jazz festival.
The Galvan ballroom was an essential part in the start of integration in Corpus Christi.
“It didn’t matter the color of your skin everyone conjugated over there to hear great jazz music and so Rafael Galvan was part of that,” said Dianna Ybarra, principal of Galvan Elementary.