It shouldn’t surprise anyone that we do things differently; marching to the beat of our own bongos is part of what makes our school so “very SDA.” As the principal, I have the distinct pleasure of waving my hat above my head as I ride the whirlwind of school spirit, looking something like Pecos Bill in an illustration from the middle of the last century. This wild ride captures much of what it’s like to be a part of our school family, involving students, staff, parents, and alumni.
Homecoming assemblies traditionally rally around sports, cheerleaders and athletes trotted out to run through a paper banner painted with some slogan about winning. Here at San Dieguito things are a little different. Students saw new teachers dance to Michael Jackson’s Thriller; the homecoming court introduce themselves in diverse skits involving lip syncing, hockey jokes, and confetti; and our Homeroom Olympics roll in on a gondola. Student MCs got the crowd on their feet to cheer on a wide variety of peers as they participated with, not against, teachers in a series of games, and the school came together to celebrate what it’s like to be a Mustang.
Mustangs from as far back as 1940 joined current students after the assembly for a Founders’ Reception in the library. Talking with current students and each other, alumni from the eight decades of San Dieguito shared stories and showed that the title of this year’s Foundation Dinner, Dance, and Auction could not be more true: “Mustangs are Forever.”
The next Monday kicked off Spirit Week, with students and staff sporting pyjamas on one day, workout gear another, and “Tacky Tourist” outfits, before a wild Friday of Halloween costumes and homeroom trick or treating. That night was the homecoming dance, and only at SDHSA would one highlight of the evening be a haunted house put on by the Japanese Honor Society.
Throughout it all, campus life hummed with the usual energy of October. Sports teams brought students to the field, pool, courts, and gym, our “Stang Gang” coming out in force to cheer on Water Polo, Tennis, and to punctuate fantastic volleyball play with their polished cheer of “S-D-Ace!”
Similar crowds celebrated music during the ongoing “Battle of the Bands” which stretched through and beyond Homecoming, and looks forward to a final evening performance a week from now. Some drew inspiration from Switchfoot frontman, and SDHSA graduate, Jon Foreman, who played a gig with our wind ensemble a week or so ago, and the crowds cheered all the student musicians as they brought music to our outdoor stage.
Homecoming ended officially with our annual Flag Football tournament that saw more than 500 students play in a tournament after school on Friday. As the afternoon turned into evening, student teams moved from the field to the stands, enjoyed tacos and treats from the food trucks on campus, and cheered on their peers as the top four student teams took on a faculty squad.
My most lasting memory of the night, beyond the kindness of the players and laughter on the field, was the throng of students who sat on the sideline cheering on the game. These spirited students held up signs of encouragement and exuded pure joy as they watched the huffing and puffing of the staff team (whose pregame chant was “Don’t Get Hurt! Don’t Get Hurt!”) and the laughing and lightning quick talent of the student athletes.
At halftime the whole student body came onto the field to dance.
I’ve been in the school business for more than twenty years and I’ve never witnessed more positive energy than I saw on the sideline that night. Heck, they even cheered when the crafty veterans stole a victory from the students in overtime. Good clean fun.
It’s Sunday night now, and I’m both tired and inspired. Not to stray too far from campus, but as my wife and I watched a romantic comedy, About Time, this weekend, I was reminded of the importance of savoring every day. The lead character in the picture, a redheaded time traveler, narrates his learned wisdom, saying:
In the end I think I’ve learned the final lesson from my travels in time; and I’ve even gone one step further than my father did: The truth is I now don’t travel back at all, not even for the day, I just try to live every day as if I’ve deliberately come back to this one day, to enjoy it, as if it was the full final day of my extraordinary, ordinary life.”
We all have the potential to live extraordinary, ordinary lives. I’m thankful every day that mine involves pyjama days, student rock and roll bands, and flag football.