FRESNO, California. (KGPE) – In an ultimate show of respect to late Central High School football coach and teacher, Justin Garza, hundreds gathered Saturday to celebrate the grand opening of the high school named after him.
Justin Garza High School is set to welcome ninth and tenth graders in the Central Unified School District Starting this fall. The school’s mascot will be the ‘Guardians.’ The new school is located off W. Ashlan and N. Grantland Ave. Garza passed away in 2017 due to Hodgkins Lymphoma. He is survived by his wife Regina Garza, and two young children. His family was in attendance on Saturday, and Regina Garza was given the honor of cutting the ribbon to officially open the school. She says she couldn’t be more proud.
“It’s a legacy that we couldn’t have prayed more to receive, and I’m just so excited,” Garza said. “I’m excited about the Guardians starting here in a few weeks, and all the students and faculty. I’m just excited they’re going to get started here and Justin is going to be a part of it.”
There will be about 1,200 students for the first year, with a new grade being added each year until the school can accommodate 9th-12th grade, according to the school’s principal. Jeremiah Young is a future sophomore who is excited about the academic opportunities Justin Garza High will offer.
“It will be a better means to get into college because of the classes that they offer,” Young said. “I’d be in the first class to graduate so that’s fun.”
One of Justin Garza’s signature, inspirational mantras to his athletes and students was “Stand for More.”
This is a motto the new principal, Ezequiel Guitierrez, says is embodied in the new Guardian mascot, and school mission.
“We’re excited to start carving out our culture, our identity as a school where “Stand for More” is our guiding principle.”
For Regina Garza, she says she is grateful her 10-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter will get to grow up seeing their father’s name on a school that will provide opportunities for thousands of students to come.
“It makes a world of difference as they grow up and they have to navigate what it means that their dad is not here physically with them,” Garza said. “But they’ll remember these moments and they’ll think and remember how he is here with us.”