Beloved Sunset High School Principal, Teacher Remembered as New School Year Starts

Bench, Garden memorialize longtime Sunset principal Anthony Tovar who died after a battle with cancer in February

At Sunset High School in Dallas, looking forward to a new school year means looking back.

Former principal, teacher, and coach Anthony "Tony" Tovar died in February after a battle with cancer. This is the first school year he won't be on campus.

"Coach Tovar changed my life," read Tovar's daughter, Shannon Hix, on Facebook messages. "Our fellow bison will always be missed."

"Those were his kids," Hix said. "Just as much as me and my siblings were."

As principal of Sunset High, Tovar was known for standing in the hallway each morning, greeting students with a smile and a kind word.

"There's a void," said former student Thanya Santana, who now teaches Spanish at Sunset HS at Tovar's encouragement.

"Mr. Tovar was exceptional and I don't think anybody could ever fill those shoes," Santana said.

Tovar's influence can still be heard as notes from band class echo in the hallways.

"Mr. Tovar was always supportive of extracurricular activities," said band director Rametria Smith, who said her band grew from 20 students to more than 100 under Tovar. "I'm teaching nieces, nephews, cousins, younger siblings of kids that are a product of the Anthony Tovar era."

On Friday, Tovar's mother and sister visited campus to see a new memorial bench and garden in his name.

"It seems like principals are either for the students or for the teachers," said Allen Miller, a childhood friend who Tovar hired to teach at Sunset High. "Tony has the ability to be both."

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