A scheduled assembly at Kyrene de la Esperanza Elementary School in Ahwatukee for former student and two-time Gatorade football player of the year Davonte Neal quickly became a nightmare for Principal Cheryl Greene.
Billed as "an assembly for all Esperanza students, with the hope that they will see themselves in Davonte, and know that they too can fulfill their dreams," the assembly ended as a bitter disappointment.
The dream was temporarily put on hold as Neal never showed up for the assembly when sources said he and his father, Luke, were still battling over his college decision.
It left Greene having to stall the assembly, and eventually relay the word to all of the students, who were taken out of class and assembled in the school's multi-purpose room, that Neal was not going to show.
"It is very emotional," said Greene, who filled the gaps with talk of perseverance and resiliency. "I know the family is very torn. They wanted to be here and I just kept hoping to the very end that they would walk through the door and we could make it happen."
Neal was expected to make a decision between his top four schools - Arizona, Notre Dame, Arkansas and North Carolina - but he and his father reportedly never came to a mutual decision.
The event started with Esperanza's Mallett Band performing two songs, followed by the introduction of Neal's former teachers and a video reflection on Neal's high school career before Greene had to go into stall mode.
Greene and staff members made the best of situation that had the kids out of class for about an hour and end with the disappoint of the no-show from the Neals.
"It was hard," Greene said. "I appreciated how well behaved (the students) were and that was a real lesson in resiliency."
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Jskoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.