Sixteen years ago this October my life shifted. Disillusioned with teaching in the public system, I approached then-principal Allen Nielsen after the DCHS Homecoming soccer game and told him I wanted to stop by to talk about whether there might be a place for me at Desert Christian. The next August I started my life as the first alumni to come back and teach at this school I love. Now as I sit in my classroom typing this I can still look back and remember that night, the friends Mrs. Dalton and I hung out with that evening, the chill on the grass, and the hope I felt when I drove out of Udall. I thank my Father for that opportunity to have a casual conversation with Mr. Nielsen that opened the door for me to spend the majority of my professional life here. I employ no hyperbole when I say my life has not been the same since.
So to say I have a fondness for Homecoming might not be quite strong enough. Naturally, I know that homecoming is not a life-changing event for everyone every year. There is a spirit on the event, however, that makes such wonderful things possible. It’s the spirit of reunion, of being among family, of congregating around a shared history. Homecoming gives us a chance to retell the story about that time the javalina head mysteriously appeared in Mrs. Hancock’s room, or when Mrs. Simon had to go on in place of a student who came down with a terrible illness the night of the last musical performance, or when Joe D’Andrea saved a penalty kick in the state championship game to secure DCHS its second title in two years, or when Mrs. Adama came over the loudspeaker to give the whole school real-time updates of the boys basketball team’s overtime win against Scottsdale Christian, or when Mr. O’Hair humiliated—I mean humbled!—that arrogant senior when he foolishly challenged Mr. O’Hair to a wrestling match on the quad. Homecoming is the chance to see what it looks like when 30-plus graduating classes come together to celebrate the grace and favor of God on our school and on our lives.
I am not naïve enough to think that every alumnus is happy to have been an Eagle. However, in my near-twenty years at this place I have also seen some of the hardest and bitterest hearts somehow turn up at an event and experience forgiveness and grace—in one or several directions—and find a new pride and a new or rekindled connection to both the school and other alumni. So if you attended DCHS, please come and join us for our Homecoming Weekend festivities, and bring alumni friends, even (or maybe especially) those who might not want to come. One never knows who might show up. It might even be you.