The Conqueror

Community Member Helps Bloom A New School Year

Bianca Flores

For the past seven years, Hacienda Heights community member and grandfather to Los Altos alumni, Benedicto Gonzalez, has celebrated Los Altos’ graduating class by putting the year up on his bushes to display to the rest of the community, and he is not going to stop any time soon.

Right up the street from Los Altos High School, a giant stack of bushes stands on the side of Gonzalez’s home, and if you look closely you could see that the bush is trimmed in the shape of three-dimensional numbers of this year’s graduating class, 2018. And if you look even closer you can observe the 3-D shape of an LA sign and the edges of the bush make the shapes of a person’s profile.

Those profiles are meant to be Gonzalez’s grandchildren, which is the reason he started trimming his bushes this way. Gonzalez explains, “I started doing it when [my grandson] graduated from elementary.” “In 2010,” his granddaughter and Los Altos junior, Amanda Lopez, adds. He then explained how his wife would remind him every year to change the year, and the rest is history.

To maintain the shape of the numbers and the LA sign, Gonzalez gets up early in the morning to trim the bushes throughout the year. Then when it is time to change the year, he lets it grow and starts all over again. This unique monument has been an interesting sight for the people of our community, whether it is the cross country or track team running past it or students driving past it everyday on their way to school, and a creative way to honor the Los Altos students. Gonzalez admits that he’ll get neighbors coming up to him to praise him for his masterpiece.

It is efforts like this from people in Hacienda Heights that sets us a part from other communities. When talking about the community’s role in helping Los Altos, Gonzalez insists, “Community support is number one.” Lopez admits she feels proud of her grandfather every time someone comments on his bushes, “I see a lot of people on Snapchat that are like ‘oh my god, this bush is so cool’ and then I feel deep inside, like that is my grandpa, and it is just really cool.”

Along with showcasing the graduating class on his bushes, he also would attend his grandson’s baseball games and his granddaughter’s dance performances, while also cheering for the other Los Altos students. “He has always been really supportive of his grandchildren,” Lopez states. Just standing in the room, you could tell she was immensely proud to call him her grandfather.

As for the future, Gonzalez states that he will continue the tradition as long as he can, even after all his grandchildren graduate. Next time you’re going up Los Robles Ave., make sure to take a look at the bush and watch out for when it displays your graduating class.

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