This letter is to thank the administrators, faculty and students at Desert Vista High School for their recent celebration of the lives of staff and alumni who died last summer. It was a real tribute to the leadership of Principal Dr. Anna Battle to take a few moments before the Ahwatukee Bowl to recognize the contribution each of the deceased made to the Desert Vista family.

The leadership, faculty and staff at Desert Vista provide many opportunities for students to connect with the school community. In our case, the soccer program, led by varsity head coach Michael Rabasca, presented our son with tremendous opportunities to grow, both on and off the field. To briefly re-visit those days — walking on to what to us will always be a soccer field — brought back all kinds of warm memories.

As family and friends entered the field before an emotionally charged crowd, we didn’t know what to expect. The respect shown by the crowd, and particularly the student section, was truly inspiring as the announcer shared comments about each former student and staff member. Then, as the brief program concluded and the families and friends released balloons, the student section began a chant: “We are blessed…we are blessed…we are blessed.”

On this night, family and friends felt truly blessed — blessed to have school leaders like Dr. Battle — blessed to be part of the Desert Vista family, where faculty and staff like coach Rabasca help our young people grow — and, blessed to be part of a community that cares.

Marie and Mark Brandt

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