(Merced City School District Press Release)
Students and staff at Hoover Middle School paid tribute to 13-year-old Vicente Mancera during a memorial service on their campus Wednesday afternoon, which was also attended by the teen’s family. Vicente was a seventh grader at Hoover when he lost his life during a tragic train accident on May 2.
Principal Julie Rivard said during the service, “We are all devastated from losing Vicente. I am so proud of all the students and staff at Hoover and how you have dealt with this tragedy. We came together, and we were a family that supported each other the day after and continue to support each other now.”
Other staff members spoke about Vicente’s sense of humor, his infectious smile, and his love of wrestling. Coach Mike Hermosillo said, “Even though he was just a seventh grader, I could tell he was special. He had leadership qualities that even the older kids on the team didn’t have. He always knew the right things to ask.”
The Hoover Huskies band performed during the ceremony, and students released biodegradable balloons shaped like doves with personalized notes written on them. Principal Rivard also explained that a plaque will soon be added to the base of a tree that is being dedicated in Vicente’s honor in the outdoor amphitheater.
A portion of the proceeds from a carnival and color run organized by the Hoover Parent Teacher Club on Wednesday evening will go to help the teen’s family. Loved ones have expressed their gratitude for all of support and prayers they have received from the community.
Meanwhile, the Merced City School District continues to focus on student safety. Staff members have been speaking with students since the start of the school year about the dangers of walking on or near train tracks, and they are consistently reinforcing that message in the wake of this tragedy.
Parents are also being asked to remind their children they should only cross the street at crosswalks, look both ways before crossing any intersection, obey all traffic signals, and avoid using their phone or wearing headphones while walking to and from school.
For Hoover Middle School in particular, the safe routes for students who live south of the campus are the G Street underpass or the Glenn Avenue tunnel. Staff members have been assigned to the tunnel all year to help students feel comfortable using that option and to prevent them from walking over the tracks. The District Safety Committee will also be discussing potential opportunities to collaborate with other agencies for additional railroad safety measures in the future.