San Diego

Nestor School Community Mourns Principal Lost to Cancer

A South Bay school community is remembering their principal who sadly lost her battle with cancer.

Students, parents and staff say Nestor Language Academy Principal Lupita Avilez was an advocate for bilingual education and an inspiration to her students.

Even while battling cancer, she was still concerned about her school community.

Avilez was diagnosed with lung cancer that spread to her brain. She was only 40 years old when she passed three weeks ago.

For fifth-graders Itezel Munoz and Mia Flores, this new school year is different. Not because of new teachers and new students, but because their longtime principal isn't there anymore.

"I didn't know her just as my principal, I also knew personally and she was the best person in the world,” Munoz said.

Flores said she’ll forever cherish one of Alivez’ last gifts — a children’s book.

"She had given me a book, it was ‘The Giving Tree’ and I still have her book. When I look at it, it gives me butterflies in my stomach because I miss her a lot,” she said.

The school community spent Friday night getting ready for their final goodbye – a Celebration of Life ceremony planned for 10:30 a.m. Saturday morning in Southwest High School’s gym.

Avilez didn't just have a family at Nestor, she was a wife and a mother to four teenagers.

She loved riding motorcycles, too, and students decided that's how they would remember her.

"She was very adventurous, full of life and so we thought this depicted Lupita and it just kind of shared what she was like for us,” teacher Gloria Munoz said of a memorial logo printed on T-shirts. “The wings symbolize that she's an angel and she's watching over us."

Students say she'll always be their role model.

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