From the desk of Dr. Tuin
In my attempt to itemize everything I experienced last week, I missed one of the most important, the department awards. Last Tuesday, many teachers gathered in the plaza to celebrate our students among the various Tustin High School departments. From freshmen to seniors, teachers cheered and announced the names of those students who put forth extra effort and excelled in the classroom. Watching the group photos transpire on stage with the Tiller backdrop and proud parents collecting pics of smiling students and teachers somehow slipped through my memory bank in eagerness to get it all.
Something that would be most difficult even for me to forget this week was the announcement of our Employee of the Year for 2023. Julie Sam is our Counseling Secretary and was voted by the Tustin High School community to represent our school as the Classified Employee of the Year. Her passion for her work, fun and energy, and execution skills are an incredible support to not just our guidance departments, but the school as a whole. Julie is an event planner extraordinaire and works hard to make sure everyone is valued and appreciated, including herself.
While this was a full week of activity as well, three stand out in particular. Coach Coe has worked hard to build his Tennis program, inviting anyone willing to give it a shot. He graduated solid individual players last year and was faced with an extremely young and inexperienced team this year. Yet, this group of students who were relatively new to the sport basically doubled the win totals from the previous year. In yesterday’s competition, they were outmatched for sure. However, the coach showed me how many more games they won this year compared to last. The steady improvement and growth were inspiring to consider and made me appreciate the teacher and coach approach that is prevalent here at Tustin High School to take students where they are and push and support them to extraordinary growth.
Another special experience unfolded across the street on our softball field. Again, this was a group of really young players for the most part and very few of them with much experience compared to the opponent who ran out several seasoned travel-ball players. Being clearly outmatched didn’t stop our girls from showing up emotionally and physically to do their best. Even with the score that gradually became lopsided, I could see the focus and engagement remain. It was impressive. Our girls still made plays when it would have been easy to get discouraged and shut down. Coach Sommers has done a remarkable job bringing these girls along and creating a close and fun community despite the challenges. Taking in the smiles and evident pride when accomplishing something hard was priceless.
That leads me to girls' lacrosse, which hosted their senior night on Tuesday after school. Sometimes this is also a group that has been significantly outmatched facing opponents with much more experience with the game. Tuesday was different. They found themselves playing an opponent with similar skills and experience on a night to celebrate four special young ladies who stuck with a difficult sport despite challenges. Sharon Morales, Joanna Herrera, Mia Torres, and Talina Ramirez stood on the field as their coach Geoff Penney read statements written by the players for this last home game. Each was an expression of gratitude pointing to a special bond the girls developed with their teammates. These were sweet and tender expressions of the impact their lacrosse experience had on them as individuals. It reminded me that athletics is so much more about relationships, life skills, and life lessons than any goal accomplished on the scoreboard.
That being said, the girls attacked the game with full determination and vigor. They made plays and buckled down on defense finding themselves with a lead. One of the standouts was their senior goalkeeper, Sharon Morales, who made some of her best stops of the year. Then on offense, Tolina was a force making one of the most impressive goals I have ever seen on a lacrosse field, sprinting from behind the goal to a spot just in front of the goalkeeper and flicking a no-look shot behind her back that found its way into the back of the net.
The common thread in each of these events was the caring leadership of the coach, and the students eager to learn and support one another. This happens in classes, programs, and clubs all over campus for which I am grateful. Reminding me of how awesome it is to be a Tiller.
Dr. Jon Tuin
Tustin High School Principal