Frank says goodbye to FUHS

Campus supervisor’s hardships help him connect with troubled teens


Photo by Reagan Glidewell

Frank Ramirez has been a campus supervisor at FUHS for 5 years.

“Gangs getting out of control, helicopter cops flying over my parent’s house every day, constant drive-by shootings,” said campus supervisor Frank Ramirez, who grew up in Santa Ana. “The 80s and 90s were a rough time. It was tough coming home from work late at night because you never knew what to expect, you know?”

Frank with his son Jordan, wife Heather, and daughter Sydney at Kailua Beach, Oahu, Hawaii in 2018. (Photo courtesy of Frank Ramirez)

But it was this uncertainty and anxiety that has helped Frank connect with troubled teens. He started supervising students at Marina High School in 1993. He transferred to Sunny Hills and then Sonora where he worked for 21 years until moving to Fullerton High School in 2017.

Despite the satisfaction Frank has had working with young people, he will be leaving his job as FUHS campus supervisor this week. Next semester Frank will begin a new job as the District Grounds Keeper at the FJUHSD Service Center. He said his new position offers better health insurance and retirement benefits.

The job of a campus supervisor is to keep people safe, and Frank has done that by helping students make good decisions. According to head counselor David McIntosh, Frank always gives positive advice to the students he brings to the office for discipline issues.

“He asks them to think about their actions and if these actions had a positive impact on their lives or not,” McIntosh said. “He understands that all kids need support, especially kids that are making poor decisions.”

Frank says he learned how to be mature and responsible when he joined the Marine Corps after graduating from high school in 1987. Stationed at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, he served for four years. Part of Infantry (MOS 0351), Frank is a Gulf War veteran. Frank said that he was a member of the unit stationed in Saudi Arabia to liberate Kuwait. Previous to Desert Storm, Frank was able to travel to many different parts of the world for training, including Okinawa, Japan.

Frank at Mt. Fuji, Japan for a training camp in 1990. (Photo courtesy of Frank Ramirez)

Frank returned home to Santa Ana in 1991, but he recalls the 90s as a difficult decade when he thinks of the 1991 Rodney King beating and subsequent riots. There were earthquakes and, especially in Santa Ana, drugs and gangs persisted.

He was particularly shaken by his best friend’s death in 1993. Rudy Garcia had just turned 22 when he was killed in Santa Ana in a gang-related shooting.

“I had just got out of the Marine Corps and I was going to school,” Frank said. “I got the call and I went to the site. It was my best friend Rudy.”

Frank said that even 29 years later, he reflects upon his friend’s tragic death. “Rudy’s memory still lives in me and through his memory, I will always preach ‘just say no to drugs, and no to gangs,’” he said.

His friend’s death motivated Frank to work with young people. “Being in the Marine Corps changed my life. I felt that if I was able to survive what I went through in the military, that maybe there was a purpose here and I had to find my purpose,” Frank said. “I feel that helping students, just working with the youth and the communities and helping them is probably the purpose that I was looking for.”

He says he felt that connection, especially with the football players at Sonora High School. “They used to brag about how much they lifted in the weight room. I said, get out of the way. I laid down and I put it up 13 times. The whole team was going nuts,” said Frank with a laugh.

(Center) Frank Ramirez has served as a flag football referee at the LA Convention Center for five years. The celebrity games have included former quarterbacks Brett Favre and Michael Vick. (Photo courtesy of Frank Ramirez)

Frank remembers his battalion finding a way to pass the time during off hours. “We were stuck in the middle of the desert after a conflict. One time we had nothing to do, so we formed a football team,” Frank said. After the military, he also played football at Golden West College but had to quit after a neck injury.

Combining his love for football and helping others, Frank spent 10 years coaching youth teams. However, Frank decided to stop in order to dedicate more time to his family. “It took too much time away from my wife and my kids. So we met in the middle and I decided to referee.”

He is currently a referee coordinator for Matt Leinart Youth Flag Football and Bert Bell Memorial Football.

Frank said that working outdoors helps him connect with the students better. No matter the day, he always tries to greet students with the same positive attitude. Even challenging students, Frank says, deserve the same respect and positivity.

“Students can be rude to me, say things that are detrimental. But you’ve got to understand, these are just kids. You got to give them a chance.”

Frank Ramirez will finish his duties as a campus supervisor this week. (Photo by Madison Dominguez)

Frank said that he always tries to put in the effort to engage with students throughout the day to help provide a smile and a positive environment for all students.

“Even the students that don’t pay attention to me when I say ‘good morning’ or ‘how are you doing,’ I feel like if they didn’t say hi or respond, maybe there’s something more going on. I’ll still treat that student the same the next day,” Frank said. “And the next day they might come back and say, ‘hi, Frank, how you doing?’ or ‘good morning, Frank’. It’s like you got to try to treat everybody the same and give them that positive feedback to get through four years of high school.”

Feature editor Jonathan Piña-Villanueva contributed to this story.