By Wayne Frasier. Seguin Gazette-Enterprise. September 6, 2002
Colonel Juan N. Seguin is riding a wave of popularity more than 100 years after his death. Arlington Independent School District recently chose to honor Seguin by naming its newest high school after him. Darlene Walser of the district's public information office said the decision was a popular one. "We had a sort of contest to name the school," Walser said. "Juan Seguin's name was a popular choice. We had a bunch of people who turned that in." Rhonda Aghamalian, communications specialist for AISD, said more than 300 entries were received, but an effort from Maria Alvarado of Dallas helped push Seguin's name to the forefront. "This has been a vision of hers for years," Aghamalian said. "It wasn't the first she had tried to get a school named for him." In fact, Seguin's third great-great-grandson, Albert Seguin Carvajal Gonzales, said Alvarado had spent more than a decade working to have his namesake's honor bestowed upon a local school. "Maria had been petitioning for 13 years," Gonzales said. "She was totally elated, and of course so was I."
Seguin's name is linked to two of Texas' most famous historical events - the fall of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto. Seguin was ordered on March 5, 1836, by Colonel William Barrett Travis to leave the Alamo and try to reach reinforcements. Before Seguin could return, however, Mexican forces overran the fort, wiping out the entire force. Two months later, however, Seguin was instrumental in the complete rout of the Mexican Army at San Jacinto. He and his troops captured a large number of enemy soldiers and retrieved $25,000 without losing a single man. While time has lifted the names of Crockett, Bowie and others from Texas history, Gonzales said Seguin is now taking its rightful place. "We call him the defender of the Alamo and the hero of San Jacinto," Gonzales said. "I think its wonderful, this resurgence of Texas history and the inclusion of native-born Texans who fought for our independence." The high school is the first in the state to bear the name, but there are five elementaries throughout the state and Juan Seguin Pre-Kindergarten in Seguin. Gonzales said the namings have increased awareness of his famous relation. "I think its quite an honor to have such respect for a Texas hero after 190 years," Gonzales said. "People are still talking about him." The school will be dedicated in early November, and members of the Seguin Family Historical Society will present the school with an 18 X 24 portrait of the hero. The same painting, an exact replica of a portrait done in 1839 by Jefferson Wright at the request of Sam Houston, hangs in the library of Seguin High School. The original, Gonzales said, is on display at the Texas State Capitol in Austin. Ed Farmer, principal of Juan N. Seguin High School, said Seguin is a fitting choice for the new facility."We have a very diverse population," Farmer said. "We have a strength in our ability to work together, and having Colonel Seguin as our namesake is a show of that. He sets a great example for our students."
For his part, Gonzales said after growing up not hearing much about his famous kin, he is thrilled to be able to help pass along the legend."Hispanics have a very proud history," Gonzales said. "The kids need to know about that. Everybody needs heroes, and we have Crockett, Bowie, Houston. Juan Seguin belongs right there with them.