Aloha STUDENT Focuses on the positives
Diego Sanchez Alvarado is intent on turning the negatives into positives. He knows firsthand how impactful that can be after an immigration mix-up ripped his father and brother away from him for a brief time.
Now, Sanchez Alvaro uses that experience to seek ways in which he can make a positive impact in others’ lives. When Sanchez Alvarado was in the fifth grade at Aloha-Huber Park K-8 School, he woke up for school one day and felt out of sorts, but he wasn’t sure why.
“I knew something was wrong,” he said. Later, Sanchez Alvarado discovered that immigration enforcement officers had detained his father and one of his older brothers earlier that morning.
“I guess my body knew before I did,” he said. Sanchez Alvarado remembers staying home from school that day and trying to keep his cousins entertained while still trying to wrap his head around what the detention would mean for his family.
“I remember trying to keep it positive, but it was all I could think about while we watched TV,” he said. Despite what was going on at home, Sanchez Alvarado continued to do his schoolwork while they were away, thanks to support from his family and teachers at Aloha-Huber Park.
His father and brother were reunited with his family after three months — they were home by Christmas — after a judge determined that there had been a misunderstanding. “They never did anything wrong,” Sanchez Alvarado said. When his father and brother returned home, Sanchez Alvarado “could feel happiness spreading around.”
“I didn’t want to sleep,” he recalled. “I wanted to stay awake with them because they got back late.”
For three months prior, Sanchez Alvarado said his family and teachers helped him through those tough months without his father and brother. He said school was a safe place for him through his fifth-grade year, his second at Aloha-Huber Park after transferring from Kinnaman Elementary School.
“I have school to thank a lot for,” Sanchez Alvarado said. As for his family: “My mom, I love her a lot,” he said.
“She’s a very caring woman. She’s a tough woman. It seems like she fears nothing. “My dad tries his best. He does all he can for our family. He says for as long as he lives, he will try to get everything his family wants.”
Sanchez Alvarado also credits his sister-in-law, Anna, with helping him through tough times, then and to this day. Now wrapping up his last semester of middle school, Sanchez Alvarado is working on a book — at the time he spoke with Pamplin Media Group earlier this spring, he was about four chapters in — about a boy in high school who went through a similar situation to what happened to him.
“It’s to remember that even though you’re going through something, there’s still hope,” Sanchez Alvarado said. “Despite how many times you get pulled down, you can still get up again.”
The book Sanchez Alvarado is writing features a female protagonist who helps the boy overcome his time separated from his family members, just as Anna supported him during Sanchez Alvarado’s fifth grade year.
Along with writing, Sanchez Alvarado is interested in photography and graphic design. In addition, he is considering starting a clothing business of casual wear like hoodies and sweaters with designs or sayings.
“I want to change negatives into positives,” Sanchez Alvarado said. “A lot of people go through things, and they need a good laugh.” That includes Western-style “Wanted” posters he makes of his friends, usually sporting mustaches and hats, that he adds to the photos.
Sanchez Alvarado is also getting to enjoy just being a kid. He said he is excited to move on to Aloha High School in the fall, hoping to make the soccer team and play for the Warriors.