I'm Coming Home

10/21/2016 09:20 pm ET
Old School (Alumni) wins the Alumni vs. Students basketball game at Wilkerson Greines Activity Center.
O.D. Wyatt Alumni Association
Old School (Alumni) wins the Alumni vs. Students basketball game at Wilkerson Greines Activity Center.

The saying goes, “Home is where the heart is.” Simply put, home is the place where you feel the deepest affection, love and sense of belonging, regardless of how far you may have ventured away.

I remember the first day of my freshman year at O.D. Wyatt High School like it was yesterday. My mom pulled up in the front of the school, asking if she could walk me in. It had been 3 years since I’d allowed her to do it, so I agreed. Partly because I didn’t want to disappoint her, but mostly because I needed her reassurance that everything would be okay. I was only a student there because of the International Baccalaureate program, and I was a long way from my home school. I was a hopeless introvert, I didn’t know anyone, and I was terrified as I stared at this large building full of uncertainty, but quite intrigued by the possibilities. I thought to myself, It’s going to take a long time for me to get out of here! If only I’d known how quickly those four years would pass. Even the subsequent 17 years have flown by. Yes, it has really been 21 years since I first stepped foot into O.D. Wyatt High School.

As I now reflect back to my time there, I am filled with pride. Not an arrogant pride, but Chaparral Pride! Fulfillment, satisfaction and achievement. From the terrified freshman to the woman that I’ve become, Wyatt has secured a special place in my heart, and it will always be home. There are many stories that I could tell, but the ones closest to my heart are of teachers who challenged and cared for us as if we were their own children, the camaraderie amongst fellow students, administrators that taught us respect for one another and ourselves. We had a tradition of school spirit, development of lifelong friendships, parents and a community of people who were dedicated to building the character of every student that they came in contact with. We had a lot to be proud of!

As many others, once I crossed the stage, my focus shifted to college, then to career, then to family. I would go back to check out the volleyball teams with former teammates, and peep in on the Singing Chaparrals. I joined them a few times caroling at DFW Airport during the Christmas season. Then, as the years progressed, those visits became less and less frequent. I totally lost touch with home…until now!

In the summer of 2016, I was sent an invitation to attend a Town Hall meeting for O.D. Wyatt alumni, and what I experienced that day was amazing. A new principal, Mario Layne, full of energy and vision. Additionally, and equally as important, was a small group of alumni, led by Rolanda Darby, who had formed a 501c3 Alumni Association. The icing on the cake was the excitement building amongst the alumni that showed up bright and early on a Saturday morning for each scheduled Town Hall meeting. I could feel the pride spreading as we learned of the mission, vision and direction of the school that we love so much. We were even joined by the “Original Chaps!” These are the alumni of classes of 69, 70 and 71. They were the first ones to grace the halls of Wyatt. They picked our school colors and even wrote our school song. Gary Balch, class of 1970, shared the story of the first basketball meeting between O.D. Wyatt and P.L. Dunbar. Wyatt boys edged Dunbar boys out in a close victory, which I believe started the rivalry that continues to this day.

Gary Balch playing manager for the "OC's" (Original Chaps) during the homecoming parade.
Gary Balch playing manager for the "OC's" (Original Chaps) during the homecoming parade.
"Original Chaps" Debbie Purser-Morse (Left), Mary Wahle-Balch (Center) and Judy McDonald (Right)
"Original Chaps" Debbie Purser-Morse (Left), Mary Wahle-Balch (Center) and Judy McDonald (Right)
O.D. Wyatt Town Hall Meeting July 2016
O.D. Wyatt Town Hall Meeting July 2016

It’s no secret that our alma mater has experienced its’ fair share of bad press in recent years. A simple google search yields some very disheartening results. However, what we received in the last few months leading up to homecoming was hope! Hope for rebuilding the tradition of excellence and pride that we were once known for. The catalyst for the next chapter in Chaparral history began with Homecoming 2016. There was something different about this homecoming than times past. It wasn’t just another homecoming game. It was the return of the Chaparral Pride, carried by students, parents, community partners and an army of alumni ready to revive and strengthen our legacy! WE’RE COMING HOME!

Community Partner Breakfast Catered by the O.D. Wyatt Culinary Arts Students
Community Partner Breakfast Catered by the O.D. Wyatt Culinary Arts Students
Community Partner Breakfast
Principal Mario Layne (Top Center)
Community Partner Breakfast

Please share some of your favorite stories of O.D. Wyatt!

Here are a few highlights from the homecoming weekend events:

Wyatt Family Breakfast at Old West Cafe
Ramona Weathersbee
Wyatt Family Breakfast at Old West Cafe

The students kicked off the Friday festivities with their pep rally! (Oct 14, 2016)

Most Spirited Students were awarded $50 each
O.D. Wyatt Student Pep Rally
Most Spirited Students were awarded $50 each

The alumni had to show them how we get down with our alumni pep rally and Old School vs. New School Basketball Game!

Alumni Spirit Posters
Alumni Spirit Posters
New School Basketball Team (Top Left); New School Cheerleaders (Bottom Left); Old School Basketball Team (Top Right); Old Sch
New School Basketball Team (Top Left); New School Cheerleaders (Bottom Left); Old School Basketball Team (Top Right); Old School Cheerleaders (Bottom Right)
Alumni and Student Mixed Choir (Top); Alumni Band Drumline (Bottom)
Alumni and Student Mixed Choir (Top); Alumni Band Drumline (Bottom)
The alumni pep rally drew in nearly 500 attendees at Wilkerson Greines Activity Center
Alumni vs. Students Basketball Game
The alumni pep rally drew in nearly 500 attendees at Wilkerson Greines Activity Center
Celebrity Alumnus David Mann and Kirk Franklin showed their love and support!  Tamela Mann (a Poly Parrot) showed her support
Celebrity Alumnus David Mann and Kirk Franklin showed their love and support! Tamela Mann (a Poly Parrot) showed her support as well.
Class of 1986 won the Spirit Stick!  They were deep in number and they showed us what school spirit really looks like!  Way t
Class of 1986 won the Spirit Stick! They were deep in number and they showed us what school spirit really looks like! Way to go '86!

Our homecoming parade started at the Forest Hill Shopping Center and ended at the tailgate party at Herman E. Clark Field.

the OC's were our Grand Marshall's
the OC's were our Grand Marshall's
David Mann
David Mann
There were more than 25 vehicles and hundreds of walking participants in the parade.
There were more than 25 vehicles and hundreds of walking participants in the parade.
The community residents and former teachers cheered us on as we passed through the neighborhood.
The community residents and former teachers cheered us on as we passed through the neighborhood.
Alumni Association Planning Committee (Left to Right) Rolanda Darby, Curtis Winston, Yamise Mitchell, O.T. Washington, Christ
Alumni Association Planning Committee (Left to Right) Rolanda Darby, Curtis Winston, Yamise Mitchell, O.T. Washington, Christina Griffin, RaeShawn Cannon
O.D. Wyatt Chaparral Band playing at halftime.
O.D. Wyatt Chaparral Band playing at halftime.
O.D. Wyatt Chaparral Marching Band
O.D. Wyatt Chaparral Marching Band
The Chaparral football team brought home the victory!
The Chaparral football team brought home the victory!

The students had a homecoming dance for their post victory after party!

The conclusion to the weekend was a phenomenal church service hosted by O.D. Wyatt Alumni recording artist and pastor of New Breed Christian Center, Darrel Blair.

Pastor Darrel Blair (New Breed Christian Center)
Pastor Darrel Blair (New Breed Christian Center)
Post-service fellowship for alumni at New Breed Christian Center
Post-service fellowship for alumni at New Breed Christian Center
Alumni Attendees (Class of 1999 from Left to Right) Preshawn Ford, RaeShawn Cannon and Aleasia King
Alumni Attendees (Class of 1999 from Left to Right) Preshawn Ford, RaeShawn Cannon and Aleasia King
Alumni Photo Opp...We were trying to get it together!
Alumni Photo Opp...We were trying to get it together!

There’s only one way from here, and that’s up! #WeAreWyatt

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