The renaming of Romero-Cruz Academy, a dual-language school, finally came to fruition this week, thanks to an old trick in the Romero-Cruz family book. 

Activism and putting public pressure on public officials. 

The elementary school was originally called Lydia-Romero-Cruz, but during a school merger with Spurgeon Intermediate, the first name, Lydia, was dropped. 

That prompted activists and family members – well schooled in local activism from years of standing up to injustices in the Logan Neighborhood – to gear up for another battle.

Voice of OC detailed the fight in a column back in January.  

Sam Romero-Cruz, Lydia’s father, grew up in a world of segregation in Santa Ana, and at the age of 87, had one more civic battle to do, having fought many in his lifetime. 

Sam and his wife, Clara, worked hard to make sure his daughter’s name was given the respect it deserved, even if it was overwhelming at times. 

During Sam’s remarks at the Wednesday afternoon ceremony in Santa Ana, he was at a loss for words as memories of Lydia passed through his mind. 

“I could not speak at the ceremony, too many great memories of my daughter came back rushing in,” Sam said the next morning over a phone interview. 

His wife, Clara, mother to Lydia, quickly took the podium and delivered an inspiring talk about her daughter’s Santa Ana legacy. 

“She was a great daughter, and this is a reason she made us very proud, very proud,” Clara said. 

“Especially because she’s bilingual – she’s Latina,” Clara announced to applause. 

Lydia Romero-Cruz was born and raised in Santa Ana. Attending all the schools in Santa Ana, she gave back to her community by teaching new generations of students and encouraging Spanish dual immersion programs in schools. 

Tragically, she had an untimely death at age 35 due to an aneurysm in 1996. 

It’s a loss felt widely by the community. 

Undoubtedly, the name Romero-Cruz is a surname well known among Santanero activist groups and beyond. 

But each Romero family member has done something different in Santa Ana, as Joe, son of the late Chepa, an activist with her own legacy, said during the renaming ceremony. 

For many, adding the name of a strong Latina to the school was important, especially for girls attending the academy – which might see themselves in Lydia’s example. 

“Romero can be anyone, how do you know which Romero it was? That’s why it was in his [Sam] heart to put the real name out there,” said Joe Andrade, from the Logan Neighborhood Association. 

“It’s very important, not only Logan [neighborhood]  but every neighborhood to fight for your neighborhood, it’s now, not later,” said Andrade. 

Gianna Cossio,10, looks out to the crowd moments before she is to recite the pledge of allegiance in English and Spanish. “I feel proud to see a womans name on my school,” Cossio told Voice of OC. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
Clara greets Romero-Cruz family members as they begin to arrive to the long-awaited renaming ceremony. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
Sam Romero-Cruz speaks to long-time activist friends, community members, and family members present at the renaming ceremony. “ We have fought a lot, done a lot of work,” Cruz said as he talked among his activist friends who are now in the late stages of their lives. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
A family member brings a photograph that was taken during Lydia’s 15 birthday, her “quinceanera.” Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
Clara’s hand is held by many as stories of Lydia are told amongst the attendees. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
Micahel Cruz-Romero, Lydia’s son, plays classical guitar as guests arrive to the renaming ceremony. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
Joe Andrade, son of Josephine “Chepa” Andrade, during his remarks at the renaming ceremony. Andrade drove the Romero-Cruz family to the event. “Ever since my mom [Chepa] passed away, I have been with Sammy and learned a lot.” Sam Romero-Cruz, is a mentor to many in the Logan neighborhood in Santa Ana. Through years of activism, he has forged longtime relationships which he now calls, “his family.” Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
Children present at the renaming ceremony. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
“I could not speak at the ceremony, too many great memories of my daughter came back rushing in,” Sam said the next morning over a phone interview. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
From left, Michael Romero-Cruz, Clara Romero-Cruz, Sam Romero-Cruz, board member John Palacios and board member Valerie Amezcua begin to unveil the prototype plaque which will be placed at the school. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
From left, Michael Romero-Cruz, Clara Romero-Cruz, Sam Romero-Cruz, board member John Palacios and board member Valerie Amezcua unveil the prototype. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC
Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

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