5-alarm proposal: PSJA senior stages unique prom date request

SAN JUAN — Horns blaring, lights flashing and dressed in full gear, Anthony Salinas stepped off of a firetruck to ask his now-official date to prom— raising the bar for promposals everywhere.

The PSJA High Early College senior invited his childhood friend Haylee Alvarado, also a senior. Both students have autism and are enrolled in a law enforcement course at school, which is why Salinas decided there would be no other way to ask than to have the fire department involved.

“We’re such good friends,” Anthony said.

At the bus pickup location on campus, surrounded by firefighters, students, a few teachers and their mothers capturing the special moment, Haylee accepted the invitation.

“I don’t have any words,” Haylee said with tears in her eyes, which she said were due to joy. “I’m shaken from the whole surprise.”

Every aspect of the day lined up perfectly. Haylee even happened to be wearing one of her favorite outfits.

“I’m glad I wore this shirt,” she said of her superhero printed top, clinging tightly to the plush bear Anthony also presented her with.

Their law enforcement teacher, Daisy Garcia, helped plan the surprise with the help of both students’ parents, PSJA staff and of course, the fire department.

“Nobody is going to outdo Anthony,” witnesses murmured.

Garcia has taught Salinas for a number of years and said his “love and passion” for criminal justice is evident. Her courses train and encourage her students to develop real-world experiences through field trips and other exposure.

On campus, Anthony serves as a security guard. To borrow the firetruck he called in a favor from his friends at the station who have made many visits to his home for his birthday parties.

Haylee stays involved in school functions and activities by serving as mascot, demonstrating the spirit of the PSJA bears.

Before their graduation, the pair will attend their “Arabian Night” prom May 5.

“It’s been really nice to see them grow into the young adults they are,” said Rowdy Vela, PSJA Early College High School director. “I think this is going to be a nice end to their senior year, and another reason to celebrate.”

“Prom is exciting for everybody … all our students are mixed together,” Vela added. “It’s called inclusion.”

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