MCFARLAND, Calif. (KERO) — A McFarland high school teacher died suddenly at school on Monday morning. Now he is being remembered not only by the McFarland community but by the communities in Wasco and Delano.
Fernando Alaniz served as a teacher and a basketball coach for the McFarland community. While he only worked at the school for two years, the superintendent said he’s been in education for even longer and his death is a huge loss to the community.
“Quality. Fernando Alaniz was just a quality individual in every sense of the word and that’s where the tragedy or the loss is exacerbated by the fact that he was such a high-quality individual,” said McFarland Unified School District superintendent Aaron Resendez.
“Fernando Alaniz was well known not just in McFarland but in Wasco, where he was pretty much a legend, Delano and all of the surrounding communities here. Most people that were involved in athletics knew Fernando Alaniz, and he was also worked for a significant amount of time with the sheriff's office here in Kern County, so his reach goes far beyond the classroom."
Fernando Alaniz was a career tech education teacher and a varsity basketball coach for McFarland High School but he was also a family man. Resendez said he had the chance to meet with his loved ones during this difficult time.
“I had an opportunity to meet with his wife and one of his children and I could just tell that from the reaction, the relationship, the little that I know of the family, that what we saw in the classroom, on the court, was really just the reflection of what he was at home, as a husband, and as a dad.”
Alaniz died during prep period class time.
“The incident that occurred, happened during a time where Fernando did not have a class," explained Resendez. "He was in his classroom that’s adjacent to our counseling office. The counselors heard something that sounded just a little odd. They came over just to check-in. They saw that something wasn’t right and Alaniz was in distress and they jumped into action. They notified the office, called 911.”
Unfortunately, Alaniz died. Resendez said it was very unexpected and no one could have anticipated his sudden death.
But the school district is now focused on remembering who he was.
“Everyone knew Fernando Alaniz as just a great guy. Not just a good guy, a great guy, someone of character,” said Resendez.
Resendez was able to work with Alaniz in the late 90s at Delano High School.
“From then till now, anyone that I know of that had interaction with Fernando Alaniz will tell you the same thing, that we was a quality individual. Someone who cared about this family. Someone who cared about the community. Someone who would go far out of his way to help his brother or his neighbor. Someone he knew and even someone he didn’t know, because that’s just the character that Fernando had.”
Prior to his time at the high school, Alaniz served the greater Kern County community.
“Before coming to teach with us at McFarland High School, he worked for the Kern County Sheriff’s Office in their IT area. Specifics I’m not sure but I know that he was a valuable member of their IT department there.”
While Resendez said his time at the school district was short his impact was large.
“People are just coming to terms with losing Fernando, and it is definitely going to be something that’s going to be an impact – a loss that will take a long time to recover from.”
The school district will continue to have guidance counselors available for students and staff as they cope with the loss of Mr. Alaniz.