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Oscar Mireles to be inducted into the Racine Horlick High School’s 2023 Graduates of Distinction

Oscar Mireles

In the spring of 1973, longtime Madison-area Latino leader Oscar Mireles was a senior at Horlick High School in Racine getting ready to graduate. On May 17, a half-century later, he will be receiving one of his alma mater’s greatest honors — the induction into Horlick’s Hall of Fame which will take place at this year’s Senior Awards Banquet.

“It is an honor to be recognized by my alma mater Racine Horlick High School which will be celebrating its 95th anniversary,” Mireles tells Madison365. “It feels great to be recognized.  My high school experience was a long time ago … but at the same time it also seems like yesterday.” 

Fifty years ago, to be exact. In the spirit of giving back, Mireles and a group of his high school friends are organizing a 50th Racine Horlick High School class reunion that will take place this summer in Racine July 8-11.

“I’ve been able to connect with a lot of classmates as we organize this 50th-anniversary celebration,” Mireles says. “We will have people coming from 14 different states for this reunion, so that’s pretty exciting. We have a Facebook page, the Racine Horlick class of 1973. So I’ve been posting stuff every day for the last like 400 days.

“I remember that those were interesting times. The Vietnam War was wrapping up and we knew people who were either in the war and were injured or who passed away and never made it home,” Mireles continues. “When you are young, you’re not always aware of everything, but it was just such a part of the surroundings …whether it’s Father [James] Groppi with the marches in Milwaukee or the Black Panthers or the Brown Berets. There was just a lot of excitement going on.”

Pictures of Oscar Mireles from Racine Horlick High in 1973 (Photos supplied.)






To honor Horlick High School alumni and to recognize the crucial role they play in society, a number of people who epitomize excellence in their lives have been chosen for induction into the Horlick High School Graduates of Distinction this year. Mireles joins an esteemed list already in Horlick’s Hall of Fame.

Mireles is currently the executive director/principal of Omega School, an alternative education center helping young adults pursue their high school equivalency diploma (HSED) and general education development (GED) on Madison’s south side. He is Madison’s first Latino poet laureate, founder of Latinos Organizing for Understanding and Development (LOUD), and has published three anthologies about Latinos in Wisconsin, titled I Didn’t Know There Were Latinos In Wisconsin. He’s also published a children’s book and a poetry chapbook.

His inspiration to become who is today began in high school which, Mireles says, was “an amazing time of growth and discovery.”

“Several teachers and staff played a key role in my development. Jesse Castaneda was my mentor, wrestling coach Bruce Ehrhart and teachers Ms. Elias, Ann Jarvis and Mr. Simmons and Mary Ann Staupe all saw my potential before I did,” Mireles remembers.

He remembers that his friend Roy Moralez was like a big brother and made high school so much easier because he “was a giant of a man, but had a gentle heart.”

Mireles acknowledges his siblings — older brothers and sisters Julian, Beatrice, John Raymond, Carlos, Jesse paved the way for his success “with their energy, wrestling background, and artistry,” Mireles says. He also acknowledges his younger siblings Raquel, Felix Jr. Victor, and Juanita who also all went to Horlick. “They taught me patience, flexibility, and responsibility,” Mireles says.

“I just wanted to thank my siblings because when you are one of 13 children you’re trying to kind of forge your own identity and I didn’t realize how much my brothers and sisters kindled my love of wrestling, the arts, and much more… they all influenced me in my young life and they paved the way for me,” Mireles says.

Mireles says he also wants to acknowledge close friends from high school including Rosa Salinas, Charly Rangel, Homero Cruz, Dan Garcia, Herman and Eddie Guzman, and Abel and Alex Martinez for “making high school so exciting and adventurous.”

The nominees for Racine Horlick High School’s Graduates of Distinction must epitomize excellence in their life by either being recognized as an outstanding citizen, an outstanding business person, a statewide or nationwide contributor to society, a statewide or nationwide contributor to the arts, a publisher of articles of books, an active community leader, or a contributor of tangible or intangible resource to the school.

“Last fall, I was honored by my college with the UW-Oshkosh’s Distinguished Alumni Award and that was very special to me,” Mireles says. “It’s just an honor to be recognized for something like this, too. I can’t wait to see my classmates.”