Granite Hills High School held their annual “Hometown Heroes Ceremony” on Sept. 14. The hometown heroes were honored before the varsity football game against Cesar Chavez High School.(Photo by Maria Corona/Grizzly Gazette/Sept. 14, 2012)
On Sept. 14, the annual “Hometown Heroes Ceremony” was held before the varsity football game against Cesar Chavez High School.
Four years ago, when Rebecca Chavez was Associated Student Body director, Spirit Club’s director, Natasha Efseaff, came up with the idea of recognizing our hometown heroes at a Friday varsity football game.
On Sept. 11, 2001, the World trade center in New York City and the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia were attacked and the last plane which crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. In total there were about 2,977 deaths. About 403 firefighters and police officers of New York died doing their job. They are honored today, and they will be honored forever.
That is why N. Efseaff came up with the idea to not just honor the people who died on 9/11, but also the ones who put their lives in danger every day.
Now Syria has faced almost two years of protests and officially two months of an all-out civil war, as declared by the Red Cross and United Nations, with no end of President Bashir al-Assad's reign in sight.
“It was four years ago when September 11 landed on a Friday, I wanted to make a personal connection with this event to our community. On September 11, firefighters and police officers died doing their jobs, so I realized that every single day in Porterville we have public service officers who put their lives on the line to protect us,” said N. Efseaff, “It was a way to say thank you and a way to let them know we are so grateful for what they do for us.”
Every year, more and more groups of people are invited to be part of this ceremony. This year, 8 groups were invited: Imperial Ambulance, American Medical Response, Porterville Schools High School Cadets, United States Army, United States Navy, City of Porterville Fire Department, Tulare County Sheriff Department, and the California Highway Patrol.
“I think it was a very good idea. I like it because it allows people in the community to give thanks to the people that are rarely thanked for the work that they do in the community,” said Chavez.
With the help of Rolinda Baranek, this event has become more successful every year. Baranek, who is part of the attendance staff of Granite Hills, does the job of contacting all these different groups. This year, the ceremony was sponsored by Porterville Ford and Juicy Burger.
The ceremony began by having the heroes escorted to the front of the football field while the Granite Hills band played a piece of music. A speech was given out to explain the importance of our hometown heroes.
The following event in the ceremony was very emotional for the Granite Hills community. Alejandro Pardo, a former Grizzly, was a United States soldier who died in Afghanistan during the summer. He too was honored in the ceremony.
“A. J. was smart, and such a great kid. It broke me to see his life cut short, he had so much more to live for. He was a really good kid. It’s hard to see this happen,” said N. Efseaff.
A moment of silence followed to honor the memory of Pardo. After the moment of silence, Sasanna Efseaff, choir teacher at Granite Hills, sang “Amazing Grace” and a white dove was released.
At the end of the song, each hero released a balloon, and the heroes were dismissed.
“I think this ceremony was cool. I really liked the fact that we honored these people that do so much for us each and every day,” said junior Julie Pearce.
This ceremony is unique in Porterville; Granite Hills is the only Porterville school that acknowledges its heroes at a public football event.
“I think it’s a good way to show the appreciation. I really like it,” said U.S. soldier David Shaffer.