Del Norte started from scratch.
My first tour of Del Norte dirtied my white shoes and it filled my lungs with dust, but it left me with a profound sense of energy. We had barely more than an empty lot and an office at the neighboring middle school, but I tasted the hint of a vision.
That same vision hit me over the head on the first day of school as I, along with my classmates, swirled through the tunnel of new teachers on pristine concrete, overcome with nervous excitement. And three years later, that concrete has been sullied by tens of thousands of footsteps, but it’s been worth it. We’ve gone from a group of strangers to a group of Nighthawks, and throughout our journey, we’ve redefined.
When we built the clubs, the teams, the culture, and the attitude of Del Norte, we didn’t copy Mt. Carmel or Poway High. Sure, we took some of their teachers and some of their students, but from the very beginning Del Norte has been about building a better high school, and that’s the vision I felt so powerfully more than three years ago.
The question is, then, did we lose something along the way? Are we missing out on the “high school experience”? Did we, by refusing to adopt the traditions and culture of other high schools, forget something essential?
I’m referring to, of course, the all-too-familiar moniker of “Del Norte Middle School.” Sometime between August 2009 and today, we were branded against our will. Don’t ask me what prompted it, but apparently there existed a group of students who didn’t think our version of high school was a legitimate one.
And we are by no means a regular high school. We don’t have the cliques, the rebellion, the class warfare between the nerds and the jocks which – if John Hughes is to be trusted – is present at every school, without exception. We’re, on the whole, a group of kids who take school, sports, and spirit seriously, and I don’t think many high schools in the world can say that.
Maybe it’s the concept of pride that seems so foreign to those at other schools. I’m not talking about our football games or our pep rallies, because pride goes far beyond that. I think the Hughes-esque concept of the high school experience is borne of resentment; I think high school students are expected to be miserable at school. We’ve managed to escape that culture through pride, the notion that with a little bit of effort, we can make high school the best time of our lives, a place that we aren’t trying to escape every day. Apparently, that notion is novel to those who refer to us as a middle school.
So no, we’re anything but normal, and if that means we’re missing out on the high school experience, maybe it’s not an experience worth having.
Del Norte started from scratch, and we’re better because we did. Never forget that, Nighthawks.