When Keizerite Salvador Reyes learned he would have to undergo chemotherapy for stomach cancer he began scheduling his appointments at dawn.

The Bush Elementary School physical education teacher wanted to make certain the appointments didn’t interfere with the time he got to spend with his students. In private, he shared with his colleagues his hope that some future day one of those students would become a doctor and find a cure for cancer. Unfortunately, Reyes’ time ran out May 21, 2011, when he succumbed to the disease.

Only time will tell if Reyes’ dream is realized, but his colleagues at Bush are seeking to honor him for all the sacrifices he made to help his students realize their dreams. They are campaigning to have a new south Salem elementary school named after Reyes and the district would be hard-pressed to find a more fitting honoree.

In addition to his duties in the classroom, Reyes was Bush’s site director for the Migrant Summer School Program. An immigrant himself, he knew well the challenges facing the new generation of migrant students.

Reyes also volunteered his time as a soccer coach in youth leagues and at McNary High School. The involvement allowed continue contributing to a sport that had been a passion since his time as star player at South Salem High School and Willamette University.

The district’s criteria for nominees is nearly boundless and allows community members to draw from the wide scope of U.S. and Oregon when crafting nominations. However, there’s one trait to which few nominees will be able to rise. In the nominating forms, district officials suggest the nominee should “reflect the character of the community.”

Reyes ascribed to one guiding principle: live life properly so you enjoy it with no regrets. He wasn’t granted enough time to spread his message as far and wide as it deserved to go, but naming a school after him will make certain generations of future students learn from his story.

More than reflecting the character of our community, Reyes embodied all that we should aspire to be.

The Salem-Keizer School District is accepting name nominations for the new school through Nov. 30 and Bush’s staff are hoping others will join them in nominating Reyes. 

—EH